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3 Big Takeaways: Browns' starting D produces multiple big plays in preseason finale

Cleveland registered two pick-6’s and 3 INTs during Saturday’s first half

defnse takaways

The Browns lost their final preseason game, 33-32, to the Chiefs Saturday in Kansas City.

Here are three takeaways from the preseason finale.

Starting defense wreaks havoc

Cleveland's defense had an impressive showing against the Chiefs in Saturday's first half. The unit made several key plays, including three interceptions, two of which directly resulted in points and another that set up the Browns offense for a short drive and touchdown.

"I was really pleased with the takeaways," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Scoring on defense was outstanding."

S Juan Thornhill, who began his career in Kansas City, scored the Browns' first points of the game after he read the eyes of QB Shane Buechele and jumped the route for a 34-yard pick-6. 

The second takeaway happened after CB Martin Emerson Jr. made a powerful hit on Chiefs WR Cornell Powell, knocking the ball into the air. McLeod caught it, leading to another interception for the Browns and giving the offense excellent field position.

The third interception came just before halftime when rookie CB Caleb Biggers returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.

The defense finished the game with three sacks, seven quarterback hurries, three interceptions, and two touchdowns.

Check out photos of the Browns against the Chiefs

Deshaun Watson plays well in extended action

QB Deshaun Watson made his second appearance of the preseason and displayed composure despite a shaky beginning, when the Browns' first series ended on a botched exchange between Watson and RB Jordan Wilkins.

"It was good for us to deal with some adversity early on," Watson said. "Being able to capitalize off the turnovers we got was good. We made plays, moved the ball and got multiple guys to touch the ball."

The offense got rolling on Watson's third possession, when they started in the red zone following a Rodney Mcleod interception. On a third-and-4, Watson threw the ball to where only TE David Njoku could catch it for a 10-yard touchdown.

On his next drive, Watson escaped the pocket and found Amari Cooper wide open down the left side for a 53-yarder that set up another TD.

All told, Watson participated in four series and played 18 snaps. He completed 5-of-10 attempts for 92 yards and a touchdown, resulting in a rating of 115.4.

"Kevin has been on edge on wanting to call some things, but it's going to be a lot of things that look very different come Week 1," Watson said. "We got 10 days to get everything tuned up and ready. Once Sept. 10 comes in Cleveland Browns Stadium, it will be fireworks."

Handful of Browns dealing with injuries

WR Jakeem Grant Sr. was carted off the field with a knee injury after returning the opening kickoff. This was the first time Grant, who signed with the team in March 2022, had seen the field in a Browns uniform. Grant missed the entire 2022 season after suffering an Achilles injury during training camp a year ago.

"We think highly of Jakeem the difference maker he is in the return game is one of the things that attracted us to him," Stefanski said. "Very disappointed for him, a guy who worked very hard and everything in been through."

CB Denzel Ward, who started and played most of the first quarter, is in the league's concussion protocol, Stefanski said.

DT Jordan Elliott suffered a hip injury in Saturday's first half and did not return.

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