The preseason is here.
The Browns are set to host the Saints tonight at FirstEnergy Stadium. From the quarterback competition to the ultimate shaping of the 53-man roster, here's what we're watching.
1. Rookies make their debut:Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, DeShone Kizer and the rest of the Browns rookie class are set for their first game inside FirstEnergy Stadium.
"It's going to be exciting to see them. We all look forward to seeing them compete on Thursday night, but at the same time, we saw them a little bit last week," head coach Hue Jackson said, referencing Friday's Orange & Brown Scrimmage. "We have an idea of what they could look like, and hopefully, they will take it to another level on Thursday night."
Garrett, the defensive end and No. 1 overall pick, will draw an special degree of attention as he continues to shine throughout training camp.
"It doesn't matter, preseason or scrimmage, I want to display the utmost dominance when I'm on the field," said Garrett, who is expected to play a significant role this fall. "I'm trying to have a dominant performance whether it is preseason or first series, whenever I get out there."
2. Brock Osweiler starts:After being announced as Thursday's starter, Osweiler is poised to build upon what was a productive week in practice.
It's also the chance for him to state his case why he should remain QB1 in a competition that Jackson emphasized is far from over.
"I just felt like at this time, this was the best opportunity for us and the best thing for us for a couple reasons," Jackson said, outlining the decision to name Osweiler the starter.
"For one, we have a veteran player who has played in games and knows how to win, and I need to give him an opportunity to demonstrate that. No. 2, we still have some young quarterbacks that need to play a lot of football. If I stuck one of those other guys out as a starter, they weren't going to play a lot of football because they probably would come out when the other veterans come out. When you sit down and think through it all, and you think what is best for our football team, it is best for me to trot Brock out there, see if he can go lead this offense and lead the team, and in the process, keep getting these young guys more reps of playing football."
Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan are all expected to take snaps Thursday.
3. What does a Gregg Williams defense look like?Since OTAs, the Browns defense has had a certain edge to it under new coordinator Gregg Williams, who joined Jackson's staff in January. Now, we'll finally see what the unit does against an opponent in different colors and where it still needs to improve after finishing 31st in total defense last season.
"The first thing they came in, they didn't put any schematics on the board. They just put their philosophies, their attitudes and just established a ground base for their philosophy," second-year linebacker Joe Schobert said Tuesday. "We have been grilled on that in the spring and throughout summer and now camp. It is definitely changing. It is definitely a new tone, and I think the offense is feeding off of it, too."
4. Position battles and roster spots: Thursday night marks the first of four chances that will shape several position battles and the ultimate shaping of the 53-man roster. Tank Carder, Joe Schobert and Dominque Alexander headline a competition at middle linebacker while Shon Coleman, Cameron Erving and rookie Rod Johnson have been working at right tackle.
There are also some training camp standouts — like defensive lineman Trevon Coley, rookie running back Matthew Dayes and linebacker Deon King — who will have the opportunity to showcase their talents on a bigger stage.