Hue Jackson spoke of small victories following the Browns' win over the Saints in their preseason opener last week. In Monday night's game against the Giants, they saw more individual and unit successes — especially on defense — that helped lift them over New York.
"As I told the team last night, I truly believe we're becoming something because I can see the fight and the will and the grit in the guys," Jackson said Tuesday on a teleconference.
"I think if we continue to work and continue to improve the areas that we need to, then we will get better. We just have to keep working at it, keep our head down and keep pushing. I think the guys understand where we are right now is exciting, but at the same time, we understand that there's so much more work to be done."
Here's what else you need to to know:
— Jackson said the Browns expect rookie tight end David Njoku (ankle) and running Isaiah Crowell (groin) to play this weekend in Tampa Bay. Njoku, the 29th overall Draft pick, was hurt late in Monday's 10-6 win while Crowell did not suit up. Jackson added safety Justin Currie (ankle) and offensive lineman Matt McCants (ankle) will miss time.
— With an eye toward the regular season, Jackson reiterated he'll name a starting quarterback Wednesday and that he feels "pretty good" about the decision to do so. "I've been feeling pretty good about what I feel and what I think for a little while now, but you have to – as I have always said – let it play out," he said. "Today, I wanted to finish the things I wanted to watch, have the conversation I wanted to have with others, and just kind of move on from there."
The Browns have split reps between Brock Osweiler (who has started Cleveland's past two preseason games), rookie DeShone Kizer and Cody Kessler since OTAs.
— Asked about Kizer — who has completed 19-of-31 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown through two games — Jackson said the former Notre Dame standout has made strides in his command of the huddle. "I thought that was pretty obvious. I thought there were times he could have gotten the ball out better – a little sooner — and I think he saw those," he said. "That comes from playing and playing with players and going through the system. There was improvement and there are things he has to keep growing at. This is going to be a process for him as he continues to move forward."
Jackson also stressed Kizer, who turned 21 in January, and any inexperience can present challenges "if you allow it to be an issue."
"He's a young man who is very talented, he knows how to play the game, he has a great feel for the game, and those things will serve him well as he gets older. Again, what we try to do here is create the right environment for him to learn a process that is going to help him be the best quarterback that he can be. We do that will all of our quarterbacks whether they are older, young, first year, second year, fifth year – it doesn't matter."
— With Carder out for the year, Jackson said second-year player Joe Schobert should "fit the bill" when it comes to what the Browns need from their starting middle linebacker. "I thought Joe is really improved and has done a great job. He has had a tremendous training camp and first two preseason games," he said. "He is very smart. Understands the system and what we are trying to implement from the MIKE linebacker position. Having him obviously has been great. It is a real luxury when you lose somebody like Tank." Schobert had six tackles (including one for loss), a sack and pass breakup against the Giants on Monday.
— Rookie left tackle Rod Johnson made his first preseason start with Joe Thomas (not injury related) and Cameron Erving (leg) watching from the sidelines. "I thought he represented himself well," Jackson said of the fifth-round draft pick from Florida State.
"When I watched the tape, I think that was a big moment for him going out just starting against (Giants edge rusher) Mr. (Olivier) Vernon, who is a tremendous pass rusher. There are times that Olivier got the best of him, but boy this young man battled as hard as he could when he was in there playing."