For those eager to see an early glimpse at how the new-look Browns defense will fare against starters from other NFL teams, Thursday's joint practice against the Giants provided plenty.
Not every starter was on the field, but several of the new acquisitions that have made the defense the talk of the offseason were given reps against players not wearing orange helmets. That's what makes joint practices exciting and intense, and both of those traits were prevalent on the first of two joint practice days.
For a look at how Cleveland's offense fared, check out Andrew Gribble’s observations. Here's what we saw Thursday when the Browns practiced against the Giants offense.
- First, it's important to note who was practicing and who wasn't: DEs Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Ss Ronnie Harrison Jr.Grant Delpit and Sheldrick Redwine, CBs, AJ Green and MJ Stewart Jr. and LB Tony Fields II did not practice.
- The play of the day for the defense was the final play of practice when CB Greg Newsome II, who received first team reps during team drills, intercepted Jones during the 2-minute drill to conclude practice. Nearly every player on the Browns sidelines followed Newsome down to the end zone for celebrations. The Giants, meanwhile, completed a round of wind sprints once the field was clear.
Newsome's interception, the first he's made in any team drills in camp, highlights the steady progress he's made so far. He performed well in all of his Giants assignments Thursday and nearly made another interception earlier in practice, but the ball slipped through his hands as he dove to make the play.
Newsome likely will receive more work Sunday in the second preseason game, but he already appears ready for whatever workload the Browns plan to give him during the regular season.
"He's doing a nice job," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "I think he's the type of kid that you don't see him make the same mistake twice. He'll make a mistake — he's a rookie, and that's par for the course — but he'll correct it, and he wants to do it exactly how it's coached. I see a very conscientious player."
- Newsome wasn't the only rookie to perform well. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah received his first dose of first-team reps in training camp and again appeared to be one of the fastest defensive players. Although a few short passes were completed with him in the vicinity, he remained tight on the opponent's hip and appeared ready to keep the play to a short gain if tackling was allowed (it wasn't).
- "JOK" also blew up a rushing play at one point of team drills after he burst through the line of scrimmage. Early signs suggest that could happen a lot this season.
Check out photos from the first day of joint practices with the Giants at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus
- CB Greedy Williams also recorded one of the better plays of practice when he swatted away a deep ball during team drills. The play was made near the Browns sideline, which made it easy for his teammates to commend him with a few shoulder pats and yells.
Williams has continued to earn praise from coaches for how well he's bounced back from his season-ending shoulder injury, and he provided another reason for praise by making the play Thursday.
"That was a really nice play," Stefanski said. "He knew when to bring his hands up and defend the play. Really nice play by Greedy, and for Greedy to get through what he fought through to get where he is and play at a high level speaks volumes to the type of competitor he is."
- Even though Garrett and Clowney weren't on the D-Line, the group still managed to stuff a good chunk of run plays. That's a credit to the depth, which featured Cameron Malveaux and Porter Gustin on first team reps at defensive end and Jordan Elliott, Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings and Sheldon Day all rotating on the interior. Malveaux and Elliott each appeared to record sacks, but the defense won't be able to tackle the quarterback until Sunday.
- Not everything was perfect about the practice. In one of the first reps during team drills, the Browns allowed a deep touchdown to a wide-open Evan Engram. The defense was noticeably vocal during the sequence but seemed to have a miscommunication on the play. Such errors, however, are still expected at this point of training camp.
- LBs Jacob Phillips and Sione Takitaki exited practice early. Stefanski said he did not have an update on their statuses.