CLEVELAND — The preseason might be something of a dress rehearsal, but don't tell that to Hue Jackson.
"If we're going to play," the second-year Browns coach said last week, referencing an 0-4 showing in 2016, "we need to go win."
That approach paid off Thursday night as Cleveland defeated New Orleans, 20-14, in its preseason opener at FirstEnergy Stadium.
A turning point came when rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer tossed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payton with 1:52 to play in the fourth quarter. He got the Browns within a point of the Saints' second-half advantage earlier in the quarter with a 52-yard pass to Richard Mullaney, a play that was directly followed by Terrence Magee's 1-yard touchdown run.
Kizer, the former Notre Dame star and second-round NFL Draft pick, shined in his NFL debut, completing 11-of-18 throws for 184 yards in what remains an open quarterback competition.
Brock Osweiler, whom Jackson announced as Thursday's starter earlier this week, completed 6-of-14 throws for 42 yards while second-year signal caller Cody Kessler completed 5-of-10 for 47 yards.
Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in the Draft, impressed in his first game, recording a tackle, tackle-for-loss and quarterback hurry in three series of action.
Matt Dayes, the rookie running back and second-to-last pick in the NFL Draft, continued what's been a strong training camp, rushing for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Browns next host the Giants on Aug. 21.