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Four Downs: The quiet return of Browns TE Randall Telfer


1. The quiet return of Randall Telfer

The 10th of Cleveland's 12 players selected in the 2015 NFL Draft participated in his first practice this week. Understandably, the fanfare was minimal, but it meant absolutely everything to Randall Telfer.

The sixth-round tight end injured his foot in his final game at USC. He underwent surgery in late February after the NFL Combine, a procedure that put his already tenuous draft status in peril. Whichever team drafted him would have to wait until early November to see him back on the football field.

The Browns were that team, and Telfer's been a mainstay inside the facility from Day 1. It just tested his patience to a level he never anticipated.

"It's like you're there but not really," Telfer said after Wednesday's practice. "It's like getting your dream car and have it be locked away and having to walk by it 14 hours a day and not being able to drive it. Now I'm finally getting an opportunity to drive it."

Telfer's goal is to return for this season, but he understands if his wait to play in his first NFL game has to wait until 2016. The Browns have been relatively healthy at tight end and rookie E.J. Bibbs was active for just the first time this season last week at Cincinnati.

Telfer was the recipient of some barbs from his teammates after his first practice. Telfer's excitement of his first football-related activity since December 2014 got the best of him and he moved at full speed no matter the drill -- even when it wasn't standard protocol.

"From a team standpoint, the coaches upstairs and the GM, I don't know what their plans are for me for this season," Telfer said. "In the end of it, I just want to contribute any way I can whether it's this season or not."


2. Nate Orchard shining against the run

The Browns have made no bones about their struggles against the run, particularly when it pertains to the edges.

A bright spot has emerged in recent weeks, though, and it comes from, perhaps, an unsuspecting place.

Rookie Nate Orchard was a force as a pass-rushing, 4-3 defensive end at Utah and finished his senior season with 18.5 sacks. Though he's yet to collect his first as a Brown, he's emerged as the team's best outside linebacker against the run, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said.

The next step in Orchard's development will center on those pass-rushing opportunities.

"It's hard to give him a lot when you have (Paul Kruger) and Armonty (Bryant) rushing the quarterback as well as they are right now," O'Neil said. "I don't want to say he's settled into his role, but we want to get him some more opportunities rushing the quarterback."


3. He said it

It's harder to find anyone on the Browns coaching staff with a deeper appreciation for Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown than O'Neil. Not only has he tried to limit the Pro Bowl wide receiver since he entered the NFL, but he also squared off with him in the collegiate ranks.

O'Neil was in his second year as a coach at Eastern Michigan when Brown began his career at Central Michigan in 2007.

When they met in 2007, Brown caught six passes for 66 yards in a game Eastern Michigan won, 48-45. The next year, Eastern Michigan won a shootout yet again, as Brown's seven catches for 172 yards and a touchdown weren't enough in the 56-52 win that capped O'Neil's final season with the Eagles.

"Nobody could tackle him," O'Neil said Thursday. "We did beat him, but we couldn't tackle him."


4. Stat to watch

The common thread in Cleveland's two wins at Heinz Field since 1999? Exceptional pass defense.

When the Browns stunned the Steelers in 1999, Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart threw for 137 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. When Cleveland beat Pittsburgh, 33-13, in 2003, Tommy Maddox was 11-of-24 for 136 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

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