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Keys to Victory

Keys to victory: What we’ll be watching against the Giants

As the first stage of training camp winds down, the Browns will open preseason play at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. After the franchise’s first 0-16 campaign a year ago, Cleveland has a revamped roster full of young talent that is ready to change the team’s narrative.

Although Browns coach Hue Jackson wouldn’t clarify how many snaps the first-team offense and defense will play, he’s excited to see how things will unfold.

Here’s what else we’ll be watching in Cleveland’s preseason opener.

“The goal is to go and evaluate our football team,” Jackson said. “I think we all know that is what we are trying to do.”

— Tyrod Taylor, who was named the starting quarterback back in March, will start the game for the Browns, but his playing time likely will be limited. Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, could play two quarters. After that, it’s unclear.

“We’ll make a decision around the fourth quarter on who else is playing and kind of go from there,” Jackson said.

Veteran Drew Stanton and undrafted rookie Brogan Roback would be the other candidates to see time under center..

— Do-it-all offensive lineman Joel Bitonio played every snap at left guard last season but he’s now making the transition to left tackle. Jackson knows Bitonio’s ability, and doesn’t see the need to give the veteran extra snaps at his new position in this game.

“I think if you watch who he practices against every day, he’s getting a lot of reps, a lot of different ways,” Jackson said. “I just think we have to continue to work it, because I do not plan on giving him anymore reps. This guy is a starter, has played in this league and knows what to do.”

— As for the entire first-team, Jackson has a plan for when and how long they’ll play. With the thin wide receivers room, the Browns will have to find chemistry as an offense.

“It is a number of plays,” he said. “I need them to be out there together and experience some things. Hopefully, have some success moving the ball, find some chemistry amongst the group and let them play.”

— The Browns had a difficult time turning the ball over last season but that trend seems to have faded. They’ve been getting their hands on more balls in the last week of practice. Linebacker Jamie Collins had a tipped-pass interception in Friday’s scrimmage, and safety Jabrill Peppers had two interceptions in one practice this week.

— This preseason opener has a different feel to it. The Browns have a new roster and new players with a number of veterans entering the primes of their respective careers, so Jackson isn’t just excited to watch the rookies play. He can’t wait to watch everyone.

“Well it is different for me. We have a lot of new players. I am looking forward to watching Tyrod orchestrate our offense,” Jackson said. “David Njoku in Year 2, Carlos Hyde, (Nick) Chubb, Duke (Johnson) and obviously, Jarvis (Landry) and the rest of our guys play together. On defense, Myles (Garrett), (Denzel) Ward, Kirko and Jamie Collins. Watching these guys play together – defensively, offensively and special teams – the goal is to go and evaluate our football team. I think we all know that is what we are trying to do. I want to see Baker play. And yeah, I want to evaluate our team and in order to do that we have to put them out there and let them play.”

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