3 Defenders that stood out in the Browns preseason finale

• A sweet homecoming

• A tone setter in the secondary

• A frontal assault

Aug 26, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cleveland Browns safety Juan Thornhill (1) returns an
Aug 26, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cleveland Browns safety Juan Thornhill (1) returns an / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 3

It was a tale of two teams for the Cleveland Browns in their preseason finale. There was what the Browns starters did and then, well, it was the other guys. The Browns came up short in Kansas City by a score of 32-33.

But if you choose to view the preseason finale through the lens of a dress rehearsal for Cleveland's starters, then there are a ton of positives to glean from the contest. While it was not the Chiefs A squad on offense, as Pat Mahomes and Travis Kelce took the afternoon off, the Browns defense looked primed for the regular season.

Here are three defensive starters for the Browns who stood out in the preseason finale

Defensive standout No. 1: Juan Thornhill

They say you can never go home again. Browns safety Juan Thornhill emphatically disproved that statement in the first quarter in his return to Kansas City.

Down by three points early in the first quarter, the Browns defense had an opportunity to get the Chiefs off the field on a third and one.

Thornhill, in a single high safety look, read the play and jumped the backside crosser with magnificent precision. The end result, a poetically perfect pick-six for Thornhill in the stadium he called home for four seasons.

Even though it was in a meaningless preseason game, Thornhill’s play should get fans excited for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, the Browns have been searching for a true playmaking free safety for seasons on end. Secondly, it showed the potential of their secondary under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Schwartz dialed up a cover one scheme, which allowed the corners to play aggressive man on man coverage. In order to play cover one, it requires safety that has the range to cover the middle of the field from the single high position. When personnel and scheme come together, the results can be beautiful.

Two drives later, Thornhill would finish his afternoon with two physical plays. The first came after rookie Rashee Rice caught a slant from the slot and attempted to turn up field. Thornhill triggered downhill like a missile and stopped Rice a yard short of the first down. On the next play, Thornhill forced an incompletion by driving through Rice on an out route at the sticks. All in all, it was a decent homecoming for Thornhill.