Game Day

5 players who impressed in the Browns' win over the Redskins

The Browns' 30-10 win over the Washington Redskins started preseason off on a positive note, beginning with Baker Mayfield's uptempo touchdown drive that finished with a touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins. But who else impressed in the first week of the preseason?

Here are five players who caught our eye Thursday night.

1. Mack Wilson

It's been impossible not to notice Wilson in the last week. He first grabbed everyone's attention with a diving interception in a Friday practice and has only improved from there, with his best performance of the entire camp coming in Thursday night's victory.

Wilson stopped rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins' momentum in its tracks by intercepting a pass in the second quarter and returning it 40 yards for a touchdown, complete with a stiff-arm of Haskins near the goal line.

Wilson then doubled down on the interception-fueled fury, reading the eyes of Washington quarterback Josh Woodrum and leaping backward to intercept his pass over the middle early in the fourth quarter to make it two for the night.

“Everywhere he looked, I followed, and he threw the ball so I jumped in front and caught it,” Wilson said.

Wilson slid to the fifth round in the 2019 draft before the Browns happily scooped him up, and it took him some time to adjust to the nuances and pace of the NFL game. Now that he's up to speed, he's playing with a natural feel and reaping the rewards.

2. Rashard Higgins

With Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry sitting out, Higgins saw a greater role and made the most of it.

His first catch was his most important one, a 24-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield that capped a lightning-fast opening drive to set the tone for the evening. But he didn't finish there, making another big play by catching a pass on a drag route, making a nearby defender miss and running all the way down inside the Washington 5.

Higgins finished with five receptions for 98 yards and the touchdown to lead the Browns in receiving and remind everyone watching that Cleveland has an excellent option beyond those wearing Nos. 13 and 80.

3. Greedy Williams

Williams got involved in the action early, recording a pair of tackles, including one that stopped the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage. He was off to a strong start, even after making a coverage mistake that allowed an early Redskins touchdown.

Why is he in this column? Well, for this interception:

On an ill-advised pass, Williams easily intercepted Haskins and returned possession to the Browns. He also recorded a pass defended before the night was over, completing a good first step for a rookie who many believe could play a key role in Cleveland's secondary this season. 

4. D.J. Montgomery

Montgomery didn't see the field until the second half, but his sequence of catches on one particular drive are what landed him in this space.

Quarterback David Blough began the possession with a strike to Montgomery, who was tightly covered and made an excellent grab while falling to the ground for a gain of 35. The reception moved the Browns into Washington territory, which they occupied for the final 10 plays of the scoring drive.

The capper: Blough to Montgomery again, this time from 12 yards out through a defensive pass interference penalty for a touchdown. Montgomery ran his route up to the goal line and pivoted, anticipating an accurate back-shoulder throw from Blough. He got just that and caught the touchdown to put the Browns ahead 24-10.

5. Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi

As his story circulates the internet in a fashion we'd call viral, Sheehy-Guiseppi also enjoys being included in the final place of this piece, for good reason.

Entering the game in the fourth quarter, Sheehy-Guiseppi caught his first pass in an NFL game, even after he initially slipped in his route. The diminutive receiver sprinted and planted, losing his footing in the process as the ball hurtled toward him. No matter, as the pass hit him in the chest and he held on for a gain of 6.

His best was yet to come.

Following the scoring drive that resulted in the Montgomery touchdown, the Browns forced a Washington punt, and Sheehy-Guiseppi trotted back to return it. He took the punt at the 14, lightly bobbled the ball, ran through a small space and avoided three defenders, received a key block from Montgomery and did the rest himself, using his 4.38 40-yard dash speed to outrun the remaining opponents for an 86-yard touchdown. The score brought the entire team off the bench in celebration and sent Sheehy-Guiseppi to the oxygen mask as his story exploded on the internet.

After the game, his teammates just wanted to talk about him.

“The talk of the day should be (WR) Damon Sheehy (-Guiseppi)," Higgins said. "For him to come out and have fun in his first game is special. That is what the game is all about. I really can’t describe the feeling because I am so happy for that guy.”

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