The Cleveland Browns faced off versus the New York Giants in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason and fans were treated to a hard fought battle between the team’s reserves after a grueling week of joint practices. In a decision made by both head coaches, the teams rested their respective starters in hopes of avoiding injury in Week 2 of the exhibition season.
Keenum’s Steady Hand
In Cleveland’s lone home preseason contest of the season, Case Keenum once again got the start at quarterback. The veteran was extremely efficient in his appearance completing nine of twelve passes for 74 yards in a 17-13 Browns victory. This includes both one touchdown and one interception. The lone Cleveland touchdown pass on the day came on a Keenum to KhaDarel Hodge connection from seven yards out in the first quarter. Hodge has stuck around near the bottom of Cleveland’s wide receiver depth chart for the last few seasons. Despite this, he has still competition for meaningful reps in both training camp and game situations.
It was not all roses for Keenum in Week 2 of the preseason however as he was intercepted on a pass throw into the end zone towards the beginning of the second quarter. While it did not lead to any New York points, these types of red zone turnovers can be crippling of a team come the regular season. The Browns were one of the premier red zone offensive teams in the league last season, mostly in part due to their run game and offensive line being able to control the line of scrimmage.
Lauletta in Relief
Once again, Kyle Lauletta replaced Case Keenum during the second quarter of game action. The former Richmond Spider played the remainder of the game and completed 12/23 passes for 152 yards. He did not throw a touchdown or interception on the afternoon. His favorite target was wide receiver Davion Davis, who hauled in three passes for a team high 45 yards. Davis has excelled in the preseason so far, but will be hard pressed to make the team given he depth Cleveland has at his position. The former Viking spent time in Minnesota with Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Cleveland’s rushing numbers were far superior in week two of the preseason compared to week one versus Jacksonville. Against the Giants, the Browns ran the ball 25 times between six different carriers for a total of 163 yards. This was good enough for over six yards per carry. Cleveland’s best chance at sustained success this season and beyond is to attempt to replicate this type of production on the ground. With the tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield surrounded by one of the premier offensive lines in the league, Cleveland’s ground game should be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Despite neither Chubb, Hunt, or the offensive line playing in Sunday’s game, they were still able to get terrific production out of players such as John Kelly, (9 carries for 58 yards) and D’Ernest Johnson (4 carries for 36 yards). This shows that the Browns offensive system is working regardless of who is in uniform; the sign of a well coached team.
Up next for the Browns, a preseason finale in Atlanta versus the Falcons. While it has yet to be announced the status of the offensive and defensive starters, it can be assumed that a majority of them will once again sit out in preparation for Week One in Kansas City. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday night at 8:00pm.