Like any preseason contest, there was both good and bad. Quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 34-yard pass down the sideline to fellow rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin? That was a great thing. Injuries to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (knee), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) and tight end Jordan Cameron (back)? Not so great.
It’s a tiny sample size in which to judge the team, but here are some observations from the Browns’ first preseason game:
- Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz had a rude welcome to the NFL. In his time on the field, he was beaten several times, often looking overpowered against the Lions’ defensive line. Call it a dusting off of the cobwebs – Schwartz will be fine.
- Wide receiver Josh Gordon looked like a guy who hadn’t played a football game in two years. He wasn’t particularly crisp in his routes, but again, that should change.
- Running back Montario Hardesty played relatively well filling in for Trent Richardson. He finished with four rushes for 16 yards, showing off a little bit of his speed between the tackles. It’s hard not to see him as anything more than a backup, though.
- Travis Benjamin was perhaps the most impressive rookie of the night, catching Weeden’s big downfield pass and finishing with two catches for 46 yards.
- A number of rookies stood out, which is always a good sign. Linebacker James-Michael Johnson burst through the line for a red zone blitz late in the second quarter; wide receiver Josh Cooper had an impressive one-handed catch in the third quarter; fullback Brad Smelley (who will likely make the team) caught a pass for a touchdown; defensive tackle Billy Winn and cornerback Trevin Wade were all over the field, always in the action.
- Best of all, there was a Carlton Mitchell sighting when he caught a 33-yard pass between two defenders late in the game.
The game wasn’t always pretty, but it’s a start. The key is for the Browns to avoid further injuries, which currently seems like a daunting task. Either way, there is plenty of room for improvement before next Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.