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Browns-Eagles Pregame Update: Six rookies inactive for Browns; 3 points of interest; relevant numbers; the prediction

PHILADELPHIA — Six of the Browns’ league-high 17 rookies are inactive for the season opener this afternoon against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Quarterback Cody Kessler, tackle Shon Coleman, receiver Jordan Payton, inside linebacker Scooby Wright III, defensive end Tyrone Holmes and defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun won’t see their first NFL action until at least Week 2.
Defensive back Marcus Burley, in his third season in the NFL, was the final inactive. He was ruled out Friday with a groin injury.
The 17 rookies are the most for an opener in Browns history and most by any team in an opener since the Ravens in 2002.
The Browns drafted four rookie receivers and kept them all on the roster. Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis are active. Louis likely got the nod over Payton because of his work on special teams.
For the Eagles, receiver Bryce Treggs (knee), tight end Trey Burton (calf), offensive linemen Josh Andrews, Dillon Gordon, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo and safety Terrence Brooks are inactive.
(Three points of interest in today’s game)
Two catches.
If you remove Andrew Hawkins and his 176 receptions in 58 games, that’s what the rest of the Browns’ Week 1 receiving corps has in the NFL — both from Terrelle Pryor, one as a quarterback with the Raiders in 2012. Three games at the position makes Pryor a seasoned veteran compared to the four rookie draft picks who join him and Hawkins as they wait for Josh Gordon to return in Week 5.
“We believe in them,” Pryor said of Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Jordan Payton and Rashard Higgins. “Just because they’re young doesn’t mean anything. Obviously they’re going to have a learning curve just like all of us, but there’s no reason not to believe in them and not to be happy that they’re with us.”
The abundance of rookies is because the new regime realized what a wasteland the position had become. It’d be beneficial if the four freshmen blossomed quickly, so they could help support new quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“The young bucks, they are hungry,” he said. “They are excited. Their mindset is on telling their story, which is our story, so when they get out there, they have a chip on their shoulder and they want to prove to everybody that upper management and the coaches all made the right decision. It is just fun to be able to mold a group of young guys. That is part of the game and I am excited about it.”
Coleman and Higgins seem certain to be active today against the Eagles, while Louis and/or Payton will probably stand and watch. Coleman was the 15th pick and knows much is expected of him.
“It’s a lot of excitement,” he said. “I’m ready to put four quarters together.”
“There will be some pressure, but pressure is a privilege,” associate head coach-offense Pep Hamilton said.
The rookies aren’t the only new faces being counted on to make big contributions as the Browns look to shock the experts and win more than a couple of games. Griffin, inside linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Jamar Taylor, defensive lineman Stephen Paea, kickoff returner George Atkinson III, punter Britton Colquitt and kicker Patrick Murray were acquired at various times and in a variety of ways, but all are expected to play significant roles starting immediately.
The additions should make an impact in nearly every phase — run defense, pass defense, special teams … and quarterback.
Griffin was the big-name free agent signing on offense, and Davis on defense after four years with the Jets. He quickly became a leader in the locker room and the coaches are asking him to run the show on the field.
“He has been outstanding,” coach Hue Jackson said. “He has been very vocal, very bright, studies the game. It is important to him. He is definitely a guy everybody looks to on defense to make sure that we are in the right defense, right situation, right call and he is communicating with all.”
Taylor was acquired from the Dolphins in a trade during the seventh round of the draft. The former second-round pick is trying to make the most of a fresh start.
“He is a pro’s pro,” coordinator Ray Horton said. “He came in and we did not promise him anything other than an opportunity. He has quietly been very professional about his job. He is a technician. He is very smart. He has let his play speak for himself, which is very impressive.”
If the defense is going to be better than expected, it must fare better against the run than it did last year. And the year before. And most years before that.
Philadelphia’s Ryan Mathews will provide a stern first test. The Eagles will likely try to take pressure off rookie quarterback Carson Wentz by controlling the ball on the ground. Mathews finished fourth in the NFL last year with 5.08 yards a carry and has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in his career.
“He’s a great runner, hard runner, downhill, and it’s a great way to start the season off,” outside linebacker Nate Orchard said.
“He’s definitely a running back that you don’t want to sleep on,” nose tackle Danny Shelton said. “He’s a guy who’s going to push for extra yards after he’s touched.”
Shelton is a giant key for the defense to improve on its 30th ranking against the run last year. He was drafted No. 12 in 2015, didn’t have an impact and was asked by the new coaching staff to lose 30 pounds and change technique. He didn’t look comfortable in the preseason, but Horton remains optimistic.
“He is going to continue to get better,” Horton said. “Give him some time. It is not just one guy that is going to bring home the bacon for us. It has to be everybody.”
Draft picks the Browns have in the first two rounds over the next two years.
Straight losses by the Browns in openers. Their only win since 1999 came against Baltimore in 2004.
Players on Cleveland’s 53-man roster who weren’t on the team last year.
NFL Network analyst Brian Billick better decide which Browns jersey he's going to wear on air, because the Browns make Carson Wentz look like a rookie. Browns 24, Eagles 20.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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