It’s a game day in Cleveland, and we’re answering four of your questions before the Browns and Eagles square off in the all-important preseason dress rehearsal.
The Browns certainly believe that to be the case. No matter who you ask, Cleveland’s coaches and players see a quarterback who is still on the rise as he enters his eighth NFL season. It will be Taylor’s fourth as a starter and, not to knock the situation he had in Buffalo, the best surroundings he’s ever experienced in the NFL. He has a bevy of talented receivers, a relatively experienced offensive line and a slew of running backs and tight ends who can make big plays in the passing game.
“If you go back to spring and when we had the same visit with you guys, I think it is the tip of the iceberg for Tyrod,” Browns quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese said. “I think he is an untapped player in the league. He has done some really nice things so far in the league, and I think it is only going to get better.”
Don’t be mistaken. The notion of Taylor being a “safe” quarterback is among the many qualities that made him so alluring to the Browns. He threw 16 interceptions over three seasons with the Bills. Last season alone, Browns quarterbacks threw 28. To be better than they were last year, the Browns have to take better care of the ball. Taylor is one of the NFL’s best in that area.
Taylor’s first throw of the preseason should end any notion of him being too “safe.” He launched a throw deep down the sidelines to Jarvis Landry, whom he trusted to go up and make a play against Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins for what turned into a 36-yard reception. Based on what we’ve seen in practice, the Browns have shown no shortage of trust in Taylor to use his arm in goal-line situations. He could be in a great position to significantly increase his touchdown total from the 14 he had last season.
“I saw Tyrod back when I was coaching in Cincinnati and played against him when he was playing in Baltimore,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He started a game I will never forget, he was running around – I told him this the other day – and I said one day I hope I get a chance to coach that guy, just because he was tremendous then and he is tremendous now. He is a really good football player.”
The rookie defensive lineman has been steadily working his way back from a sports hernia injury that kept him off the field during OTAs and minicamp and delayed his start to training camp. The third-rounder from Miami did not see the field for Cleveland’s preseason opener but was among the most active players last week against the Bills. Thomas played 30 snaps, the sixth-most of any defensive player, and finished with one tackle. Expect to see more of him in tonight’s second half and extended action next week against the Lions.
That’s a fair concern, but the Browns are looking to build the best possible team for the here and now while simultaneously molding a roster that will be strong for years to come. If they believe Bryant is a fit within the locker room and gives them the best possible receiving corps for Taylor, they’ll make it work. Callaway is still a rookie who has his best football ahead of him. His time will come, and the way he’s performed so far indicates he’ll have a role no matter who’s added to the receiving corps. As for Higgins, who had as good of a camp as anyone, he enters his third season with 31 games of experience, including four starts. He’s put himself in a great position to make the roster no matter who’s added to the team in the coming weeks and has shown an ability to adapt to whatever circumstances he’s faced.
Certain veterans have been absent for the majority of camp and younger players have stepped in and had good impressions. How will the decision be made on Seth Devalve, as Devon Cajuste has done a very good job and appears to have done well catching and getting chunk yardage after catch? -- Rob M., Fairmont, WV
Cajuste has had a good camp and made the most of the opportunities presented to him in the wake of DeValve’s injury. He’s primarily worked with the second-team offense and developed good chemistry with rookie QB Baker Mayfield. DeValve is a talented route runner who primarily worked with the first-team offense throughout OTAs, minicamp and the portion of training camp in which he was healthy. Jackson said earlier this week DeValve was close to returning but stressed “he needs to get on out there when he can as fast as he can.” DeValve was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards last year. The Browns will have to weigh DeValve’s health, what they’ve seen on the practice field and what they believe the players can contribute when the games count. There’s no reason both can’t make the roster.