We’re headed South for the Browns’ third preseason game of 2019. Just don’t call it a “dress rehearsal” around Freddie Kitchens.
As we take flight, here are our best answers to five of your best questions.
I haven’t heard much about how Denzel Ward has been performing during training camp. I’m hoping it’s the old saying, no news is good news. But just in case, what’s the news on Ward? -- Brad A., Columbus
That largely applies to Ward, who quickly established himself as one of the league’s better cornerbacks in his Pro Bowl rookie season. When he’s been on the field, Ward’s held up nicely against the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Both of Cleveland’s star receivers have been effusive in their praise of Ward, who envisions he’ll be that much better in 2019 because of all of the practice reps he’s gotten against Beckham and Landry.
“We are going to get each other better,” Ward said. “We are just out there competing and getting each other better trying to help this team win.”
Ward was limited for a couple of weeks with an injury that prevented him from playing in either of the team’s first two preseason games or the joint practices in Indianapolis. He was much more active in practice this week but it’s unclear whether or not he’ll play against the Buccaneers.
Check out up close and personal photos from Browns Camp presented by Gatorade
I haven't seen an update to Damon Sheehy's injury status. How severe is his rib injury? I know he has little chance to make the team, but you're evil if you're not rooting for the kid. -- David S., Port Washington, New York
It’s safe to say everyone is rooting for Sheehy-Guiseppi, who became a national story after his memorable punt return touchdown against the Redskins. He dealt with a rib injury in last week’s game at Indianapolis, but he was cleared to return during the game -- the Browns still held him out on punt returns -- and has been full go at practice this week. On Wednesday, Kitchens, unprompted, praised Sheehy-Guiseppi’s development since his out-of-nowhere signing in the spring.
“Sheehy showed up to a workout that he was not even supposed to be at,” Kitchens said. “He shows up at rookie minicamp and we end up keeping him but he did not know what was going on. He really did not. The strides he has made over the last four or five months has been tremendous.”
Why are they not giving A.J. Ouellette more opportunities at running back? He’s a long shot; I get it, but he doesn’t get to show any other team what he has to offer. -- William B. Piqua
Ouelette, a former walk-on who went undrafted after starring at Ohio University, saw the field for 12 snaps against the Redskins in Week 1 of the preseason and one snap against the Colts. He’s played on a bunch of special teams and is likely to get some more action in both areas over the next couple of games. As a matter of fact, running backs coach Stump Mitchell raved about Ouellette in Wednesday’s episode of “The Best Podcast Available.”
“Young guy, smaller back but will try to fight you,” Mitchell said. “He can just do it all. He can catch, he can run and he’s got great vision.”
With Jamie Gillan being a rugby player, I'm assuming he's pretty tough. Is there any way he remains with Browns and gets a shot at special teams NOT punting? He kicked long field goals in college. Have they given him any reps in those situations with our kicker competition spiraling down? -- Ryan S., Parma
Gillan made some headlines earlier this week when he was spotted making a 60-yard field goal during a break in practice. He’s got a big leg, no doubt, and he has experience after serving as a kicker in high school and at Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Over four college seasons, Gillan went 46-for-73 on field goals and 77-for-85 on extra points. Kitchens was asked about Gillan’s big leg earlier this week and cracked a smile about the viral video.
“I did not even know he can kick field goals. If he is out there kicking 60 yarders, hell, he may get a chance,” Kitchens said while laughing. “If you can kick a 60 yarder, your ass is going to get a chance.”
Gillan, who remains in the thick of a punting competition with veteran Britton Colquitt, was not spotted kicking field goals Wednesday.
My question as a Cowboys fan is do you see Rico Gathers making the team? He was released from Dallas last week. I had hoped he would still be with Dallas but now he is in Cleveland and I wish him nothing but the best. -- Richard F., Casper, Wyoming
Gathers, a former Baylor basketball player who caught three passes for Dallas last year, received a good amount of playing time in last week’s win over the Colts, seeing the field for 16 snaps. Much like Ouellette, he’ll get even more opportunities in the coming weeks. At 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, Gathers is a big, big target who can also provide some muscle in the running game. Behind David Njoku and Demetrius Harris, there are some opportunities for a tight end or two to rise and claim one of the remaining spots in the room. He arrived late for camp, but Gathers shouldn’t be counted out at this stage. The Browns have an extra week to make a roster decision on Gathers, who will serve a one-game suspension to start the season.