Cleveland Browns: Storylines to watch in Preseason Week 1
By Colin Damms
What are the top storylines to watch in the first week of the NFL preseason for the Cleveland Browns?
The Cleveland Browns 2021 Preseason kicks off on Saturday, August 14th at 7 pm EST against Urban Meyer’s Jacksonville Jaguars. While much of the NFL Preseason hype for this game will be centered around the former Ohio State and Florida head coach and his new No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, the Browns are the team with the most hype for the regular season.
Kevin Stefanski and company finished 11-5 last season, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round before losing to the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.
While it was the most impressive Cleveland Browns season since their revival in 1999 there was still plenty of work to do in order to build on that success.
General Manager Andrew Berry and the rest of the Browns front office went to work in the offseason hoping to improve upon their impressive campaign, and have given the coaching staff a talented bunch of newcomers to work with. The NFL Preseason may not be up to the speed of the regular season, but is still a useful proving ground for newcomers and fringe players that was unavailable in the buildup to last season. As the Browns look to acclimate
Here are some of the top storylines to keep an eye on in the first round of of the NFL Preseason.
3. Odell Beckham Jr.’s return from injury
The Browns were fortunate last season not to suffer too many injuries on their way to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in nearly 20 years. In a sport as physical as football, there are always going to be bumps and bruises, but the last team standing is likely one that stays healthy too. Unfortunately, the big injury loss of the season was one of the most high-profile members of the offense.
Odell Beckham Jr. was a big loss for the Browns offense. Despite constant narratives about his ability to perform consistently and even his willingness to be in Cleveland, Beckham had some impressive and important performances early in the season. His chance to grow with Stefanski’s improving offense throughout the season was taken away after suffering an unfortunate ACL tear early in the Week 7 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
He comes back after another offseason of questions about his long-term future with the team, and with the status of his recovery still relatively low-key. Any first string cameos will likely be restricted, but it might be our first look at just how back from injury WR 1 is.
Beckham went into last season with a lot to prove and does so again this year. If he suits up, Saturday will be our first chance to see how he looks post-surgery. Either way, it’s worth watching.