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Game Day

5 players who impressed in the Browns' preseason-ending victory at Detroit

We're handing out five game balls after the Browns brought home the barge with a 35-17 victory over the Lions.

QB Baker Mayfield - The rookie signal-caller seemingly got better every time he was on the field, and Thursday's effort served as an ideal culmination for his productive preseason. The No. 1 pick completed 9-of-16 passes for 138 yards and led the Browns offense on three scoring drives in one half of action. He came out with a bang in his first NFL start, connecting with tight end Devon Cajuste for 41 yards on the very first play of the game. Now, he'll work behind the scenes to keep improving, as he enters the year as the team's backup quarterback to veteran Tyrod Taylor.

K Zane Gonzalez - The second-year kicker won his position battle before Thursday's game and gave himself a little more momentum entering the season by nailing both of his field goal attempts. Gonzalez connected on a 39-yarder in the first half and a 45-yarder in the second, making him 3-for-3 on the preseason after hitting a 54-yarder the previous week against the Eagles. "He did a good job tonight," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "After going back through everything and having long discussions, we made a decision to let (Ross) Martin go, so obviously he's won that job. It's his job until it's not."

RB Matthew Dayes - The second-year running back made big plays through the air and on the ground in a performance that was unfortunately short-circuited by an ankle injury. Dayes caught a 30-yard pass in the first quarter and bolted up the middle for a 42-yard touchdown run in the second. Dayes, who finished with 111 yards of offense on the night, is vying to crack the roster as a potential fourth running back and do-it-all special teams player.

DB Denzel Rice - The journeyman defensive back was a playmaker throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp. On Thursday, he put it all together in a game, as he made one last impression on those who will decide whether or not he has a spot on the 53-man roster. Rice racked up eight tackles and two passes defensed on a night that saw him play as much as he had all preseason. Rice defied the odds in 2015, when he was the only undrafted free agent to make the Eagles' 53-man roster, and he'll look to do it again in 2018 for a revamped Browns secondary that is much deeper than it's been in recent years.

DL Nate Orchard - Fighting for a spot on the 53, Orchard made one of the biggest plays of his career, leaping in the air to intercept a Matt Cassel pass and returning it 64 yards for a touchdown near the end of Thursday's first half. Orchard, the former second-round pick whose pursuit of a roster spot has been chronicled weekly by "Hard Knocks," mostly worked with the second-team defense throughout training camp. "He made a real, big-time football play right before the half," Jackson said. "I mean he intercepts the ball and returns it for a touchdown. That's huge."

The Cleveland Browns play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.