Tyrod Taylor and the Browns’ starting offense are still coming into form as they prepare for Thursday night’s preseason game against the Eagles.
Because of that, head coach Hue Jackson made it abundantly clear that rookie Baker Mayfield won’t receive first-team reps anytime soon as Taylor and a new-look offense continue to gel under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“We’re learning a new system, and I think Tyrod needs every rep that he can get with the ones,” Jackson said Monday, asked if the youngster and first-overall pick will see an increased role. “I think Baker's doing outstanding with the twos. If something happens and we need to put him there, we will. Right now, that hasn't happened."
Since the Browns traded for Taylor in March, Jackson has stood firm that the veteran is and will be Cleveland’s starting quarterback this fall. Taylor, a three-year starter in Buffalo and one-time Pro Bowler, has looked the part, too, steadying the team’s offense both on and off the field.
Browns practice in preparation for Thursday's game against the Eagles.
— Josh Gordon won’t play Thursday after reuniting with the Browns this past weekend. The talented but embattled wide receiver returned Saturday following a leave of absence to focus on his physical and emotional well-being. Gordon, who’s still recovering from a public struggle with addiction, returned in December from a multi-year suspension. The Browns have said they’ll slowly work Gordon back into the swing of things. Jackson added he’s not opposed to playing the receiver in the preseason finale against the Lions.
— Veteran cornerback E.J. Gaines is week-to-week after suffering a knee sprain in Sunday’s practice. It was something of a best-case-scenario for the Browns in what looked like a potentially serious injury. “It sounds like we’re going to get him back sooner rather than later,” Jackson said. “That’s a good thing. If he’s a fast healer, hopefully he will come back a little sooner. We’ll work through that.” Gaines had been taking reps with the second-team defense and has 36 starts in three seasons.
— Defensive tackle Trevon Coley could return for the team’s season opener against the Steelers, Jackson said. “I think that there’s a chance. We’ll see.” Coley, who started 15 games last season, has missed most of camp with a high ankle sprain.
— Rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway was limited in Monday’s practice with a hip injury, but it’s too early to determine whether the former Florida standout will play against the Eagles. “It is what it is,” Jackson said. “Still the grind of training camp, getting through it.” Callaway earned a starting job earlier in camp.
— As iron sharpens iron, defensive end Myles Garrett and left tackle Joel Bitonio have sharpened each other. The pair of star players has faced off against each other ever since the Browns moved Bitonio, a four-year starter at guard, to left tackle earlier in camp. Bitonio fills a much-needed void at the spot following the retirement of Joe Thomas, who earned 10 Pro Bowls in 11 seasons. As Bitonio continues to master the finer points of a new position, having to block Garrett is as good as it gets. “It’s a good battle to watch every day,” Jackson said. “Myles is getting better. Joel is getting better. Those two guys are making each other better. That’s what you have to do.”
— Speaking of the offensive line, the group is still building chemistry nearing a month into camp. Bitonio’s playing a new position; there’s two new starters — rookie left guard Austin Corbett and right tackle Chris Hubbard; and right guard Kevin Zeitler has missed significant time with a calf injury. “It’s not ideal, but it’s a part of the game,” center JC Tretter said. “Guys get banged up and guys miss time.”