Skip to main content

Keys to Victory

Keys to Victory: Browns at Colts

The Browns have wrapped two days of joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts in Westfield, Indiana, and are back in Indianapolis to face the Colts on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here are our keys to victory in Week 2 of the preseason.

1. Win in the trenches

The Browns did an excellent job of this during both joint practices, and especially on Day 2. Without All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, the Browns' interior duo of Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi consistently won at the point of attack, getting good push inside and frequent penetration when rushing the passer. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was harassed all afternoon Thursday, often forced to just get rid of the football due to the pressure.

The Browns were equally as effective in the run game, stringing out stretch runs and outside zones for minimal gains and staying stout in red-zone situations. Thanks to the push generated by Richardson, Ogunjobi and reserves Daniel Ekuale and Trevon Coley, the Colts struggled to do much of anything offensively for much of the Thursday practice.

They'll have to do that again at full game speed Saturday in order to contain the Colts' offense. If they can achieve that, they'll produce quality reps for the starters before they head to the bench for the rest of the game in what could be a preview of what's to come during the regular season.

2. Establish offensive rhythm

This wasn't an issue Thursday for Baker Mayfield and Co., which found success both on the ground and through the air. Though we shouldn't expect many reps from the starters, when they are on the field, don't be surprised to see them again pick up the pace with a no-huddle attack that has produced plenty of positive plays for the first-team offense in practice and game action so far this preseason.

Keep an eye on the backfield, where Kareem Hunt could see meaningful action for the first time in a game as a Brown. He received a healthy amount of reps in Thursday's session and could benefit from game exposure, even if limited.

This point also extends to the receiving corps, where Jaelen Strong is expected to see more than a handful of snaps as he attempts to secure a spot on the final 53-man roster. He's had a strong week and a half and could guarantee his place with a solid performance running with the first and second team.

And finally, this also includes the offensive line, where we should watch right guard Eric Kush as he attempts to solidify his standing as a starter.

3. Again, stay healthy

Since it's preseason, this will be a key with each week because these games don't count in the bigger picture and need to be used more for preparation for the regular season than attempting to win the individual contest. The larger goal, then, is to maintain the health of the team's key contributors.

That will likely mean little to no reps for stars like Odell Beckham Jr. We could expect Jarvis Landry to play some, seeing as he was active Thursday, but if he also sat out, it wouldn't be a bad thing for anyone but the fans tuning in. Above all, it's more important that they're ready for Week 1 against Tennessee, not for recording receptions in August.

This includes the remainder of the roster, too. A gruesome injury to Colts receiver Daurice Fountain on Thursday served as a reminder of the fleeting nature of health in this sport. Browns players should give their full effort when on the field, but know all too well that the games in September onward mean much more than Saturday's contest.

Check out photos from the second day of joint practices with the Colts in Indianapolis by team photographer Matt Starkey