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5 Takeaways: Briean Boddy-Calhoun comes up big again on goal line

On the practice field, Briean Boddy-Calhoun has been a regular playmaker no matter the situation.

In the Browns' two preseason games, the second-year defensive back has come up biggest when he and the rest of the defense had its backs against the wall on the goal line.

Boddy-Calhoun prevented the Giants from slicing into, or completely overcoming, a four-point Browns lead early in the fourth quarter when he intercepted Geno Smith inside the 5-yard line. The game-sealing play was similar to the one Boddy-Calhoun delivered in the preseason opener, when he made a tackle for loss on fourth-and-goal.

"As we go on, I feel like everyone is getting more and more comfortable with the defense. You see a lot of guys on this defense making plays, not just me," Boddy-Calhoun said. "The defense is allowing us to play fast and play confident."

In the first half, Boddy-Calhoun delivered a hit just above the knee on Odell Beckham Jr. that ultimately ended the Pro Bowl wide receiver's night. Beckham cleared the concussion protocol but was hampered by a sprained ankle. He watched from the sidelines during the second half out of uniform.

"I don't think any of our players try to do things maliciously. I didn't get that feeling," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. I know some guys who are thinking that maybe it wasn't a legitimate or a good hit, but again, we have to watch the tape and see. Sometimes guys get put into [tough] positions, and it is tackle [football]. I thought Briean was just trying to tackle a player and got him on the ground."

The Browns play the New York Giants in Week 2 of the 2017 preseason.

-- About a dozen Browns players, in a group that included rookies and veterans from both sides of the ball, knelt in a circle during the singing of the National Anthem. A number of their teammates stood nearby in a show of support.

Linebacker Christian Kirksey led the group in prayer.

"We were just praying over the country and praying over things going on," Kirksey said. "We did it as respectfully as possible and we respect everything that happened with things in the military. We respect all of that. We just felt it was the right time for us to do this and say a prayer for this country."

Last week, Jackson said he respected his players' rights to protest issues that are "far bigger than football" if it involved "much thoughtful dialogue" before it was ultimately executed.

A Browns spokesperson released the following statement after the protest.

"As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression."

-- Browns QB DeShone Kizer finished with more rushing yards than any of his teammates, going for 35 on five attempts. That included a designed, 1-yard keeper and a handful of others that were drawn up in response to the Giants' defensive looks.

"He has that ability with his legs and a couple others were scrambles, legitimate scrambles, but he has to learn to get down," Jackson said. "That is what I told them. He said he wanted to make sure that he ran into somebody so he could see what it felt like. I go, 'Nuh uh, that is over with. Get down.' He has to learn how to slide. I don't care how big you are. I have always said these quarterbacks only have so many hits in their bodies so he has to protect himself that way."

-- Though he's lined up as a wide receiver during large parts of training camp, Duke Johnson Jr. was almost exclusively a running back Monday, starting in place of Isaiah Crowell. Johnson played into the second half and led all players with nine rushes for 28 yards.

Crowell was one of 13 players who did not dress for Monday's game. The Browns leading rusher in each of the past two seasons, Crowell is dealing with a groin injury.

Other notable Browns who did not dress included defensive lineman Nate Orchard (groin), defensive lineman Danny Shelton (knee) and offensive lineman Joel Bitonio (knee).

-- A handful of Browns left Monday's game with injuries, including linebacker Tank Carder (knee), offensive lineman Matt McCants (knee), safety Justin Currie (ankle) and tight end David Njoku (ankle).

Jackson said he would have more details in the coming days about the players.

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