Cleveland Browns rising stock No. 3: Donovan Peoples-Jones
Coming into this game Donovan Peoples-Jones was struggling a bit. He’d been targeted by Baker Mayfield 10 times in the last two games but only came away with three catches. In this game, he was able to pull down five passes on seven targets.
None were bigger than the toe-tapping beautiful caught ball he made as he was being interfered with by a Baltimore defender in the first half. That catch got the Browns down to the 15-yard line where they then scored a few plays later to take a commanding 17-0 lead.
He seems to be the only Cleveland receiver at the moment that has been able to come up with big catches and he’s been the only wide receiver to seemingly get separation from his defenders and give Mayfield a target down the field.
More consistency by the Peoples-Jones in these last four games of the regular season looks to be a key ingredient if the Browns want to get to the playoffs. He has surpassed his rookie year totals in several categories already. He has 430 yards, three touchdowns, and 23 receptions, all better than a year ago and in only 10 games played to this point.
Cleveland Browns rising stock No. 2: JoJo Natson
Cleveland receiver JoJo Natson, who has been used primarily on the special team units, came up big in the game Sunday.
After the Ravens kicked the ball away on a kickoff late in the first half, the ball landed and then started tracking toward the sideline. With the knowledge of the moment, Natson ran to grab the ball but waited till he stepped out of bounds and then took possession of the ball. By rule, the ball was kicked out of bounds and instead of getting the ball at the two or three-yard line, the ball went to the Browns at the 40-yard line.
Most who follow football may have not known that rule before Natson’s smart move. We now do and it’s certainly a play that will get him high marks by the team and coaches.
Cleveland’s offense didn’t take advantage of the special teams’ play of the game, but it was such a smart play by the NFL veteran that it probably locked his opportunity up to be the game day regular punt and kick returner moving forward.
The Browns had been using the rookie Demetric Felton back on special teams to receive kickoffs and punts. He fumbled his first two punt returns Sunday and that gave Natson the green light to come into the game and from the looks of it, he’ll probably be taking those duties for the next game.