Jamar Taylor earning 1st-team reps
Asked what it meant that Jamar Taylor received first-team snaps at cornerback Sunday, Browns coach Hue Jackson was straight and to the point.
"It means he is one of our starting corners," Jackson said.
All the fourth-year cornerback has done is continue to get better throughout his first preseason with the Browns. The former second-round pick who came to the Browns from the Dolphins via a Draft Day 3 trade first impressed coaches with his productivity at nickel, a spot at which he worked with the first-team in the first two preseason games. Now, he's getting a shot at the traditional cornerback slot in Cleveland's 3-4 defense.
On Sunday, Taylor was regularly spotted on the opposite side of the field as Joe Haden while veteran Tramon Williams received some work with the second-team defense and at nickel.
"He plays the game we want him to play it," Jackson said. "He made some plays the other night on the ball. I expect our corners to get their hands on balls and defend the other teams' receivers.
"We are going to keep mixing and matching until we get this right. That is just how I am. That is how our defensive staff is. This is how our offensive staff is. Our job is to put the best players out there and give them a chance to play and put people in position to be successful. That's what we are going to do."
A look at the schedule
The Browns wore shells Sunday, will fly to Tampa on Monday and will participate in a full-pads practice with the Buccaneers on Tuesday morning. The teams will convene again Wednesday in shells.
"We're going to go practice," Jackson said. "We'll have 9-on-7, team, pass scale. We'll do some situational football. We'll do a lot of different things to get our team better and help them get their team better."
Jackson said the teams won't tackle to the ground because of Friday's game looming on the schedule. The Buccaneers are coming off joint practices last week in Jacksonville.
The Browns enter the week relatively healthy and are expecting to see a number of previously injured players, such as Joe Haden and Corey Coleman, in action.
"A lot of teams probably wouldn't do it on the third week, but I thought it would be best for us, and I couldn't foresee the physical injuries that we would have or anything," Jackson said. "It wasn't any magic solution. It just worked out this way. It's working out in our favor because it is important for us and what we have in the future."
The Browns have their last practice in Berea before heading to Tampa.
Robert Griffin III hit the deck without contact on both of his designed runs Thursday, and that's exactly what Jackson wanted to see.
Griffin gained 36 yards on the two runs. He ran for 815 yards and averaged nearly 7 yards per attempt as a rookie in 2012 but took a number of hard hits along the way.
"If you want to play quarterback in our system for us, there are certain things we ask the quarterback to do. Those are two of them," Jackson said. "You have to do it. You have to protect the ball. You have to take care of yourself because you need to be out there with your teammates. He gets it. I think he understands it, but it's still in progress. It's something we have to keep working at."
Browns D humbled, but confidence unfazed
Cleveland's defense has been on the field for twice as many plays as the offense during the preseason, and its inability to consistently stop the run has been the main culprit.
That was recognized Sunday by two of the men in the center of it, nose tackle Danny Shelton and linebacker Demario Davis.
"The thing I see is that we have a long way to go," Davis said. "We're doing some things well, but there is still tremendous room for improvement just in the run game, in the pass game and creating turnovers and getting after the quarterback in the red zone, in short-yard situations, just tremendous room for us to get better, which is good. You want to be able to improve and the good thing is it's not Week 1 yet. We still have time to get it right, but that window of opportunity is closing."
Shelton said whatever the external expectation is for the Browns defense, it's even higher inside the walls of their meeting rooms.
"For us to face these two teams and not come out with the outcome, it's putting more of a chip on our shoulder," Shelton said. "We can use that for these next couple weeks finishing this preseason."
Murray 'feeling great'
Browns kicker Patrick Murray said he feels "incredible" from a physical standpoint as he finds himself in the thick of Cleveland's kicker competition.
Murray nailed a 46-yard field goal in the Browns' preseason loss to Green Bay and was summoned first to make an extra point against the Falcons. Travis Coons missed his only kick, an extra point attempt on Cleveland's second touchdown.
Murray missed all of 2015 with a knee injury. As a rookie with Tampa Bay in 2014, he made 20-of-24 field goals and all of his PATs.
"I approach every opportunity like it's a real opportunity for me to win a job. That's the way you have to be in the NFL," Murray said. "These opportunities don't just come around all the time."