Browns notes: Rashard Higgins gives Washington red carpet treatment

Defense creates 4 turnovers, Mack Wilson has 2 interceptions

Daryl Ruiter
August 08, 2019 - 10:45 pm
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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Rashard Higgins put on a show in the first half.

Higgins – AKA ‘Hollywood’ – caught five of his six targets for 98 yards and a touchdown in Thursday night’s 30-10 preseason opening win over Washington.

Higgins’ first reception was a 24-yard dime dropped into his hands by Baker Mayfield to cap the opening drive for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

“We wanted to do 2-minute just to see how we’d do, and we did a hell of a job tonight,” Higgins said.

“That’s the type of passes we expect Baker to make. He’s a baller. He’s a big-time playmaker and he got the job done.”

It was an impressive drive considering Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry didn’t take the field.

“Scary huh,” Higgins said. “Y’all expect us to make the plays, right? At the end of the day we play receiver, so it’s our job to make the plays.”

Higgins caught a nine-yard ball from backup Drew Stanton before Stanton later found him for a 38-yard completion that saw Higgins slam on the brakes to make a Washington defender miss and run all the way down to the two.

Unfortunately, the Browns didn’t cash in on that drive.

Higgins also added catches of six and 21 yards from third string QB Garrett Gilbert.

Communication breakdown – A miscommunication by rookie corner Greedy Williams and rookie safety Sheldrick Redwine resulted in Washington’s only touchdown of the night.

“Things are going to happen and you’re going to get miscommunication,” Williams said.

Williams released Washington receiver Robert Davis, who easily caught a 46-yard pass from Case Keenum and ran it up the far sideline for a touchdown to tie the game at 7.

“I do not know if he thought he had safety help or he should have been deep himself so I will leave it for the masses to decide,” Kitchens said.

Taking it away – Mack Wilson jumped in front of a Dwayne Haskins pass and returned it 40 yards for a pick-six and a 14-7 Browns lead in the second quarter.

“He continues to get better,” Kitchens said. “It is kind of one of those things where he is keeping his head down. It was not going good for him early in camp, but he kept his head down and kept working one day at a time and one rep at a time. Before you know it, he starts making plays, he is in better positions and his eyes are in better places and spots. He is getting other guys lined up. His communication is starting to get better with that group. Once you know how to get there and where to get there, the rest is just making plays.”

Wilson, who has been averaging what feels like an interception a day at training camp, added a second interception early in the fourth quarter.

“Growing up, I played offense, so I feel like my athletic ability helps me out,” Wilson said. “I think I have a nose for the football. It’s hard to explain, but it’s just something that I have.”

In the second quarter cornerback Terrance Mitchell came up with a strip and Jermaine Whitehead recovered the loose ball before Williams bounced back from the early gaffe to intercept Haskins late in the first half.

“I have told you guys before about the front windshield and the rearview mirror. You are just playing the next play,” Kitchens said. “I do not care what happened the play before, and I do no care what happens the next play. I just want you to play the current play, and he did a good job of that. He should have been in the deep third on the one where they ran right by him one, but what he did was he played the next play and he got a pick.”

Haskins, the former Ohio State star, was Washington's second quarterback Thursday night.

Giving back – Dontrell Hilliard had a tough first half but no need to worry. He had a fumble on a fourth-and-goal from the one and before halftime a holding penalty that moved the Browns out of field goal range.  

“We are going to get better at that,” Kitchens said. “I would not push the panic button on Dontrell yet.”

In the third quarter receiver Ishmael Hyman fumbled at the two-yard line following a 14-yard completion from Gilbert thwarting another scoring opportunity for the Browns.

Hilliard is being counted on to assume the role vacated by Duke Johnson following the trade with Houston earlier in the day.

Happy return – Rookie receiver Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown with 3:05 to go in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

“I ran as fast as I could to the hole and tried to take off,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said.

Sheehy-Guiseppi, a longshot to make the team, went untouched on the return, which wasn’t a surprise to his teammates.

“We were calling it before it even happened,” Higgins said. “When Damon Sheehy’s name was called to go back to punt return, we were all standing up. He was telling us that he could run a 4.3, and we told him that we haven’t seen that all camp, but it looked like he ran a 4.3 to me.”

The score set off a massive celebration that seemed to include the entire team as players ran from the bench onto the field to celebrate with him.

“I felt all the love. I couldn’t breathe under the pile,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said. “I was over there gasping for air, but I felt all the love.  I saw all of them come running down there [to the end zone] and it was just a blessing.”

Two-and-out – Drew Stanton also had a short night. He was pulled after two offensive series that saw him complete 3 of 8 passes for 68 yards.

Garrett Gilbert completed 14 of 22 passes for 135 yards in over two quarters of work as the third quarterback.

Close for Callaway – Antonio Callaway nearly made a spectacular touchdown catch, but despite Kitchens’ decision to challenge the incompletion, the call stood.

Washington cornerback Jimmy Moreland deflected Stanton’s pass and Callaway nearly caught it on his knees falling out of bounds.

Kicking battle – Austin Seibert made both of his PATs while Greg Joseph made 1 of 2, missing his second try off the left upright.

“I do not know yet about the hold. I just know it did not go through the uprights, and I am looking for them to go through the uprights,” Kitchens said. “I do not want any excuses. I just want the ball through the uprights.”

Joseph also made a 43-yard field goal that extended the Browns lead to 17-7 in the second quarter.