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Training Camp

Packers defeat Browns in preseason opener

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin —
For most of their preseason opener, a young and new-look Browns roster went toe-to-toe with Green Bay.

But in what was a game of highs and lows, Cleveland was unable to overcome several costly miscues -- including a pair of turnovers and two safeties -- that helped lift the Packers to a 17-11 win Friday night at Lambeau Field.

"We have some work to do. We had some chances, but we have to not turn the ball over," head coach Hue Jackson told Cleveland's WEWS at halftime. "One of our goals is to not turn the ball over. If you don't turn it over, mostly good things are going to happen."  

While the Browns offense showed promise, it also sputtered at times during the evening. Cleveland finished the night with 172 total yards and struggled to establish a consistent run game.

Robert Griffin, who was recently named the team's starting quarterback, passed for 67 yards and an interception on 4-of-8 attempts on two series. Griffin, the former Redskins star who was the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year, made his first start in more than a year.

Browns running back Raheem Mostert, who took the field with the second-team offense, led Cleveland with 43 rushing yards — including a 27-yard scamper in the first half — on five carries.

Cleveland's defense, meanwhile, also had its share of ups and downs. The Browns held the Aaron Rodgers-less and shorthanded Packers to four yards a play, but also allowed 320 total yards, more than half of which came from a steady Green Bay run game.

"They were running a lot of stretch plays, trying to get the cut back. They did a lot of action to try to lead the fullback out wide and give the running back room to cut back," linebacker Demario Davis said, "but we did a good job controlling our gaps. The linebackers got downhill and just swarmed to the football."  

On the first play from scrimmage, Griffin and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor connected on a 49-yard pass that seemed to set the tone for the Browns offense.

"It was a great play by TP. He tracked the ball down and has been doing that all offseason and all of training camp. He made a play for us," Griffin said. "We are going to need those kind of plays to win games."

That promising drive, however, was cut short after Packers safety Micah Hyde dove over the goal line and intercepted Griffin's pass to tight end Gary Barnidge.

"We have to always be a team that takes care of the ball," Jackson said at halftime. "It's unfortunate, but we have to learn from it."

The Browns defense immediately responded with a big play of its own, crashing through the Packers offensive line on the following possession for a safety and first points of the night.

Cleveland, however, was unable to capitalize on that big play and its momentum as Mostert muffed the ensuing punt, setting up a 54-yard field goal from Packers veteran kicker Mason Crosby.

Quarterback Austin Davis left the game with a concussion and first-year receiver Rannell Hall did not return following an ankle injury.

Many Browns rookies made their NFL debuts Friday night, including quarterback Cody Kessler right tackle Spencer Drango, defensive end Carl Nassib, linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah, wide receiver Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis and safety Derrick Kindred among others.

Kessler and Higgins connected on the Browns' lone touchdown of the night, a 10-yard score late in the third quarter.

Nassib, the 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year whom the Browns drafted to help bolster their pass rush, finished with three tackles, a sack and a tackle-for-loss.  

Browns rookie receiver Corey Coleman, Andrew Hawkins, Joe Haden, Josh Gordon and Seth DeValve, among others, did not play Friday night.

The Browns, who hit the practice fields Sunday for Day 12 of training camp, host Atlanta Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

"It's a stepping stone, but we have to come back next week and make bigger plays and make more plays," said Pryor, who finished with 57 yards.

"We have to finish when we're down there. I know that and the team knows that. We just have to execute better. It's not one person; it's all of us, and we will execute better."

Of course, the Browns will have a chance to do that next week.  

"We had a few mistakes, but overall, I thought it was good for us to get out and go against another team," Griffin said. "We look forward to getting back on the field during the next preseason game."

The Browns face the Packers in the first game of the preseason at Green Bay.

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