Browns kick preseason off against Washington Thursday night

Starters not expected to see much time but plenty to watch for

Daryl Ruiter
August 07, 2019 - 5:00 pm

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – For 11 practices the Browns have been hitting each other and Thursday night they’ll finally get to hit someone else when they kick off their preseason against Washington.

While excitement for the upcoming season is at a fever pitch, as evidenced by the 37,000 that took in Saturday’s scrimmage-practice at FirstEnergy Stadium, a preview of the high-octane offense and powerful defensive front will likely have to wait.

If the starters that are healthy do play, it probably won’t be for very long, so those hoping to see a lot of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will be disappointed.

Get ready to see a lot of Drew Stanton and Garrett Gilbert. David Blough too.

Fans will also have to wait to see the new and improved defensive line. The entire starting front four – Myles Garrett (knee), Larry Ogunjobi (groin), Sheldon Richardson (abdomen) and Olivier Vernon (hamstring) – are not expected to play after missing the last two practices with injuries. 

Kareem Hunt returned to practice on Saturday but has yet to participate in team drills since so don’t expect to see much of him either.

The No. 1 priority against Washington – and throughout the entire preseason – is to come out healthy.

What to watch for – Eric Kush likely will start at right guard after spending the last three practices with the first team offense. Austin Corbett, who has served as the No. 2 center and right guard when not with the ones is still in the running, but he clearly has some ground he needs to gain to avoid missing out on a starting job for the second straight year.

The run and return game should be intriguing to watch with Dontrell Hilliard and D'Ernest Johnson expected to get plenty of snaps out of the backfield. Both are competing for return duties as well. The ability to contribute on special teams is often the deciding factor when it comes to the back end of the roster.

Most of the starting 22 positions are spoken for so backup roles are up for grabs on both sides of the football. Receiver and the secondary provide the most intriguing areas of competition for reserve roles. Derrick Willies, Jaelen Strong and Ishmael Hyman have flashed their ability to make catches at various times during camp, but they’ve been inconsistent.

Keep an eye on several rookies. Linebackers Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki have had strong camps along with cornerback Greedy Williams. Safety Sheldrick Redwine has had his moments too.

Greg Joseph leads rookie Austin Seibert in the kicking competition, which might be the most important one of the preseason for the Browns. Seibert has struggled when put in pressure situations and Joseph must prove that he can be reliable.  

Last week – N/A, preseason opener for both teams

Last Time – Aug. 18, 2014 Washington 24, Browns 23   

Series – Washington leads preseason series 9-3; have won all five meetings in Cleveland   

Rankings – Points scored: Washington 29 (17.6), Browns 20 (22.4)

Yards: Washington 28 (299.7), Browns 13 (368.8)

Rushing: Washington 17 (110.9), Browns 14 (118.3)

Passing: Washington 29 (205.4), Browns 13 (266.3)

Points allowed: Washington 18 (22.4), Browns 12 (24.5)

Yards allowed: Washington 16 (353.4), Browns 3 (393.0)

Rushing yards allowed: Washington 16 (116.3), Browns 5 (135.2)

Passing yards allowed: Washington 18 (237.1), Browns 8 (257.8)

Turnover ratio: Washington 8t (+7), Browns 8t (+7)1

Noted: based on 2018 results

Probable Starters – Offense: WR Jarvis Landry, TE David Njoku, LT Greg Robinson, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Eric Kush, RT Chris Hubbard, QB Baker Mayfield, TE David Njoku, WR Odell Beckham Jr, RB Nick Chubb

Defense: DE Anthony Zettel, DT Daniel Ekuale, DT Devaroe Lawrence, DE Chris Smith, WILL Christian Kirksey, MIKE Joe Schobert, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Denzel Ward, FS Damarious Randall, S Jermaine Whitehead, SS Morgan Burnett

Note: based on player availability

Injury report – LB Genard Avery (ankle), TE Seth DeValve (concussion), DE Myles Garrett (knee), TE Demetrius Harris (concussion), RB Duke Johnson Jr. (hamstring), DT Larry Ogunjobi (groin), DT Brian Price (concussion), WR Damion Ratley (hamstring), DT Sheldon Richardson (abdomen), Adarius Taylor (concussion), CB Tavierre Thomas (hamstring) and DE Olivier Vernon (hamstring). 

Broadcast – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network. TV: WEWS TV-5

Kickoff – 7:30 p.m. – FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio

Our prediction – N/A for the preseason