Jarvis Landry caught five passes and scored his first touchdown of the 2021 season, but it's what he didn't do in Sunday's season opener that symbolized the kind of trust the Browns have in the veteran wide receiver.
It was late in the second quarter, and Landry took a pitch from Baker Mayfield, stopped in his tracks and looked downfield for an open receiver. It was a familiar scene for Browns fans who have seen Landry at the center of these types of plays in the past. Over the past two seasons, Landry, as a thrower, is 5-of-6 for 137 yards and a touchdown.
This time, though, Landry didn't throw it. Instead, Landry zigged and zagged his way to an 8-yard gain that turned into a 23-yarder after Kansas City was flagged for a facemask penalty. The Browns scored their third touchdown of the half a few plays later.
"They were tired up front a little bit, so they sniffed out what we were trying to do," Landry said. "They didn't rush too much and Coach puts me in those positions because he trusts me to make good decisions. I was going to throw it away. I thought about my QBR. I saw a little green grass so I just took it.
"That's part of the reason he allows me to be a part of those plays."
Landry, now in his fourth season for the Browns, showed off the versatility that's made him an invaluable part of offense since he joined the team in 2018. As healthy as he's been in multiple years, Landry put together a season opener that included five catches for 71 yards and a spin-filled, 5-yard touchdown run that saw him absorb multiple hard hits early in the second quarter.
"I channeled my Alvin Kamara right there," Landry said.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt wants the players around Landry to channel their inner Jarvis Landry. That's how much he values the veteran wide receiver, who brings immense value to the Browns on the field as a player and off the field as a leader.
"I would take 11 Jarvis' out there. He's a pro's pro. He's as tough as they come. He generally gives us sparks. If we need something to get going, we try to find a way to get Juice involved. He's gonna make it happen.
"His toughness, his leadership and his love for the game are infectious."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Houston Texans
Van Pelt said the Browns were getting rookie LT James Hudson III ready for Sunday's game in the event Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) and Chris Hubbard (triceps) were unable to play. Neither Wills nor Hubbard participated in Thursday's practice.
Hudson, the Browns' fourth-round selection, worked at both left and right tackle during the preseason after starring as a left tackle at the University of Cincinnati.
"He's getting better. He's definitely an arrow pointed up guy," Van Pelt said. "All the work he's put in already, the day he got here for minicamp he's had one-on-one practice with Coach (Bill) Callahan and Coach (Scott) Peters. He's going to continue to get better. He's a guy I'm excited to see if he gets a chance to play this week to see how he responds to a real NFL game."
High Praise for the Rookie
Landry on Thursday continued to heap praise upon rookie WR Anthony Schwartz, who had three catches for 69 yards and a 17-yard run in his NFL debut Sunday.
"I told him on Monday I was extremely proud of the way he played, the way he approached the game," Landry said. "I don't know if he even had a mental error in the game. He played pretty much close to a perfect game. He really showed his speed and his presence was definitely felt."
Van Pelt said the Browns planned to use Schwartz in some capacity in the season opener, but his role increased when Odell Beckham Jr. was made inactive 90 minutes before kickoff. With Beckham slated to miss Sunday's game, Schwartz appears poised again to serve a significant role in Cleveland's offensive attack.
"He's on top of his game for sure," Van Pelt said. "That's one of his areas of strength, his intelligence and his ability to study and learn the plays. We're really glad to see him make those plays. You can see the speed on the field. He'll continue to get better as the season goes along."