It’s been just two games, but Cleveland Browns rookie Demetric Felton looks like he belongs in brown and orange
It was just one game, and an exhibition game at that but Demetric Felton of the Cleveland Browns looks really good in brown and orange, and in particular, he should be able to find a role for himself on special teams as well as at running back and slot receiver.
If the new Cleveland Guardians baseball team needs a utility infielder, he can probably play shortstop and centerfield also.
Felton had three punt returns for 21 yards. It’s not just that he made punt returns, it’s the way he moves on the field. So far he has shown very good hands and very good elusiveness once he tucks the ball away and accelerates downfield. He looks like he belongs in the NFL.
The former UCLA Bruin also caught a pass for 12 yards and carried the ball eight times for 25 yards on the ground. As a running back, he was perhaps overshadowed by the stellar performances of D’Ernest Johnson (four rushes for 36 yards; 9.0 yards per carry) and John Kelly looked a lot like Leroy Kelly with nine rushes and 58 yards for 6.4 yards per carry and a touchdown.
Nevertheless, Felton has a diverse skillset and is on a trajectory to make the team.
He will remind Browns fans of Duke Johnson in terms of what he can do for the team. Namely, everything. If there is one thing we would like to see more from Felton, it would be the Duke Johnson pop block on the screen pass.
Duke used to pop a linebacker on his way out of the backfield, not exactly a pancake special, but enough to delay the pass rush long enough to allow the quarterback to have time to throw. That was a problem for Felton’s predecessor, Dontrell Hilliard. Funny thing, Hilliard is no longer a Cleveland Brown, wonder why?
Wide receiver Jojo Natson is a professional NFL returner, coming back from an ACL, and looks to be 100 percent healthy. He had two punt returns for 11 yards. The Browns have given Natson occasional reps as a change of pace running back, and he seriously changes the pace.
Natson is all of 5-foot-7 and 153 pounds. He had one carry for 12 yards versus the Giants. He made the 53-player roster last season, and this is his fifth season in the NFL. He’s probably behind Felton right now, but he will likely play in the NFL at some point this season.
One word of caution about the Browns punt coverage and kickoff coverage teams. We can easily be lulled into a false sense of security because Jamie Gillan and the two kickers (Cody Parkey and Chase McLaughlin were very good today and denied the Giants the opportunity to run anything back except for one kickoff.
Had the Giants run back a few punts, we cannot be sure how good the Browns punt return unit is this season, since many key players are gone this season, including Tavierre Thomas (12 special teams tackles), Tae Davis (nine tackles), and Stephen Carlson (nine tackles). Who will make special team tackles in 2021?
This is a question that special teams coach Mike Priefer will have to answer in the next exhibition game, and then it starts for real.