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Top 5 Browns players against the Rams


1)      Chris Kirksey

Read our full breakdown of his performance here. Saying he will be a large part of Cleveland's defense in 2014 is quite the understatement.

2)      Andrew Hawkins

For the first time, the chemistry we've seen all offseason between Brian Hoyer and Hawkins came true in a live game setting. Hawkins hauled in five receptions for 36 yards and made an in-traffic touchdown grab right before halftime.

"It was a great play call by Kyle Shanahan, and an awesome read by Brian Hoyer," said Hawkins of the scoring play. "It was just the right play for the right defense. Hoyer did a great job of coming backside of the play and really letting it develop; and the result was a touchdown."

Question Hawkins' size, but don't question his ability to get open. The Rams had trouble keeping tabs on Hawkins not only in the middle field, but also when he hugged the sideline. Right now, as the Browns head into Week Four of the preseason, the 28-year-old is the most reliable receiver on the roster.

3)      Armonty Bryant

Back-to-back sacks in two preseason games thrust the second-year player into the starting lineup Saturday against the Rams. Bryant wasn't able to register his third quarterback takedown, but he did again live in the backfield. The 265-pound lineman said it's his unique frame that makes him more difficult to block. He's the opposite of a 330-pound Phil Taylor, meaning Bryant is coming straight at you with speed. And he's able to fit into tight spaces. Bryant's cemented his role as a staple in the Browns' defensive rotation.

4)      Paul Kruger

It may surprise some Browns fans that the outside linebacker has made this list on back-to-back weeks. Going forward, it shouldn't be. The rave will be about Kruger's improved speed, which he showed against the Rams on a knockdown of Shaun Hill. But on Saturday, it was Kruger's strength against the run that stood out. He finished with just three tackles, but on several occasions, Kruger was throwing St. Louis offensive linemen to the side to join on gang tackling efforts.

5)      Taylor Gabriel

Arguing that Gabriel is undeserving of a roster spot is becoming a hard stance to take. The undrafted rookie from Abilene Christian tied for second on the Browns with 23 yards receiving on two receptions. The 5-foot-8 jitterbug took one kickoff return 68 yards and another 37 yards up the sideline, but the latter was flagged for an illegal block in the back. Simply put: Gabriel rarely, if ever, makes negative plays. Instead, fans are getting to know him more because of his blazing speed. He's taken this opportunity and then some with the Cleveland Browns.

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