A game like Sunday's was important to Jarvis Landry.
Kevin Stefanski saw what it meant to the veteran wide receiver and couldn't have been happier for him. He's seen firsthand how hard Landry has battled through a nagging rib injury — not to mention his recovery from offseason hip surgery — and saw how much it lifted the offense when Landry hauled in eight passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, his first of the season, in the Browns' win over the Jaguars.
"We know what he is capable of," Stefanski said. "Now that he is healthier, he is continuing to get better and better, and he will find a way to affect the game. He has the uncanny ability to make tough catches, and they typically result in first downs. That is a very big deal for what we are looking for."
And the Browns will be looking for it again and again as they hit a pivotal, five-game stretch that ultimately will determine whether or not they'll be playing beyond the regular season.
Without Odell Beckham Jr., Landry has emerged as the team's clear No. 1 wide receiver. It just took a few games in awful weather for the passing attack to hit its stride the way it did last week in Jacksonville.
After weeks of biding his time and showing plenty of patience, Landry was more than ready for the opportunity to take over a game.
"I feel like I am in a sense just getting started, so I am excited," said Landry, who leads the Browns with 46 catches for 614 yards on the season. "I hope with that more opportunities come. It challenges me obviously to continue to work hard, to continue to get my hands on the ball in practice and to continue to earn the trust of the coaches that have to be able to call these plays and put me in these types of situations for this team to make those types of plays."
Alerted Thursday that all eight of his catches Sunday went for first downs, Landry called it "awesome" and directed his focus to the Browns' next challenge, a major AFC showdown with the Titans.
"Listen, that is what we need," Landry said. "That is part of the good football that we have coming up ahead. More of that."
Jarvis Landry caught 8 passes for 143 yards in the Browns win. He set a season-high in that category and, of course, finally secured that first touchdown. He was Mayfield's go-to receiver on a considerable chunk of the Browns' third-down passing plays.
Stefanski said he liked what he saw from Myles Garrett's first practice with the team after spending the previous week and a half on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Stefanski said he and the team's training staff would monitor Garrett and FB Andy Janovich, who also came off the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week, as they reacclimate.
"We are going to make sure that we are smart about how we get him back out there," Stefanski said. "Checking in with him yesterday, he looked really good and then we'll see how he looks today and just keep an open dialogue with him."
Next Man Up
"I gave up a stop route, an over in man-to-man and a 12-yard dig at the end of the game. I was very tight in coverage on two of the three," Johnson said. "It was solid. It was solid. Just really looking to build next week and getting in tune with their offense, what they like to do and who they like to get the ball to X, Y and Z. Really just trying to play sharp and execute."
Johnson, who is the Browns' top option in the slot when Ward is healthy, is slated to take on the same role Sunday against the Titans.
"When you watched him technically for him moving outside really for the first time for extended play, I felt like he did well," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "I talked to him about it. As a player, he is very competitive, and he wishes there were some things he could have done better more technically, but I thought he did a nice job for us."
A Spark From D'Ernest
The Browns got a much-needed "spark" on kickoff returns when RB D'Ernest Johnson took one back 45 yards in the first quarter against the Jaguars.
Johnson and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones have rotated as the Browns' deep return men over the past few weeks. Peoples-Jones delivered punishing blocks on multiple Johnson returns and has handled the ebbs and flows of the competition "like a pro," special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said.
"He still has a great skillset. He is a big, strong guy who can run. I think with him, we just needed a change for that return unit," Priefer said. "I put him at halfback as more of a blocker. Plus, if they do kick it short, he is back there and he can handle those shorter types of kicks because he is a good ball security guy."