The Browns suffered their first loss of the preseason in a 13-12 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but there were still plenty of players who turned in solid performances.
Here are five players who caught our eye Friday night:
1. Austin Seibert
Seibert split the uprights on all four field-goal attempts and flashed the potential Browns coaches saw when they selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The kicker had his ups and downs in his competition with kicking incumbent Greg Joseph in training camp but rebounded in a big way when he hit a 54-yard field goal — longer than any kick he made at Oklahoma — on the Browns’ first drive of the game. He was also good from 36, 30 and 35 yards.
Kitchens has kept faith in Seibert throughout the inconsistent camp, and the kicker delivered Friday.
“Pretty good, huh?” Kitchens said. “I like that. I like it a lot.”
Check out photos of the Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers by team photographer Matt Starkey
2. Olivier Vernon
Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers offensive line had little luck keeping the backfield clean of Browns defenders, who picked up a staggering five sacks in the first half.
Two of those sacks came from Vernon. The 2018 Pro Bowler had little issue pushing through the Buccaneers’ offensive front and forced Winston to scramble on nearly every passing attempt.
And if you haven’t heard yet, that Browns defensive line is going to be scary good.
“I still think the defensive front is one of our strengths of our team,” Kitchens said. “They got to play, and they got to play well, and they can’t take anything for granted. They just got to keep playing play after play after play, and they did a good of that tonight.”
3. Devaroe Lawrence
The Browns already have a formidable one-two punch at defensive tackle with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi, but the depth at the position will be among the strongest on the team, too.
Lawrence picked up two sacks in the second half Friday and became the Browns’ preseason leader with three total sacks. Lawrence was one of the top defensive players in camp and looks poised to crack the 53-man roster after spending most of last season on the practice squad.
4. Denzel Ward
Ward missed the last two weeks of practice with a leg injury and didn’t return until last week. The cornerback looked comfortable in his first taste of preseason action and was strong against top Buccaneers wide receivers Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman.
Ward’s tight coverage certainly contributed to the defensive line’s big night with Winston unable to find his top receivers, and Ward even contributed to the backfield frenzy with a sack in the first quarter.
Don’t expect to see Ward or any of the other starters until Week 1, though. Kitchens said there’s “no chance” that starters play in the final preseason game Thursday.
5. Jamie Gillan
It’s impossible to not mention Gillan after the punter recorded another big night with his left leg.
Gillan averaged a solid 48 yards on six punt attempts and launched a 54-yard punt in the first quarter after crushing a 74-yarder last week against the Colts. There’s a real sense of excitement whenever Gillan prepares to let one fly, and the “Scottish Hammer” will certainly receive interest from other NFL teams if he’s unable to land a roster spot with the Browns.
Oh, and Gillan showed off his rugby background and recorded his own tackle on a 14-yard punt return, too.