BEREA — Rookie running back Matthew Dayes wears No. 27.
No. 30 would be more appropriate.
Dayes (5-foot-8, 205 pounds) was the second-last pick of the draft and the 30th running back taken when the Browns selected him at No. 252. He knew instantly when asked how many runners went ahead of him.
“Twenty-nine. I don’t know how I knew that number. I just know the number, to tell you the truth,” he said Saturday. “I know for a fact there’s not 29 running backs in that draft that’s better than me.”
Dayes, one of the pleasant surprises of camp, hasn’t gotten over the pain of waiting until the end of draft weekend to hear his name called.
“Every day I wake up I think about that,” he said. “I thought I was going to go in the third or fourth, end up going in the seventh round. I’m thankful right now because I’m with a great organization.
“That was probably one of the toughest moments of my life. But I had my family there supporting me, so it was all good.”
He said his only predraft contact with the Browns was when he played for the coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. So he was shocked when they ended his misery.
“I was hysterically crying,” he said.
Dayes said he asked his agent but they never got an explanation for why he slid so far in the draft. He started 24 of 45 games at North Carolina State, rushing for 2,856 yards, a 5.2 average and 34 touchdowns. He added 98 catches for 937 yards and six touchdowns.
As such a low pick, Dayes isn’t guaranteed a spot on the final 53-man roster. But he’s certainly opened eyes in the organization and is determined to stick around.
“I know I’m capable of making these plays, so it’s not a shock to me,” he said of his strong start.
Dayes said he loves watching film of Frank Gore and LaDainian Tomlinson, and has studied Jim Brown. He doesn’t lack for confidence but got a boost during the first tackling period of camp.
“One of the first plays when we went full pads and had a pretty nice run,” he said. “I really felt my confidence went up then and that’s when I knew I definitely belonged.”
TO THE HOUSE
Linebacker Jamie Collins said Saturday morning one of his takeaways from the Orange and Brown Scrimmage on Friday night was the lack of takeaways by the defense.
“Getting the ball out,” he said. “I can’t get the ball out enough.”
He rectified the situation Saturday during a “mock game.” He intercepted a Cody Kessler pass over the middle and blew past the offensive line for an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“I still don’t like turnovers,” coach Hue Jackson said. “We have a chance to score, that’s going the other way, that’s a huge swing. Gotta protect the ball, especially down there, but it’s a heckuva play by Jamie.
“Jamie’s a good football player. He’s smart, he’s heady. I like to see our defense do good things, but I want to make sure our quarterbacks are not tipping their hand that way.”
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and linebackers coach Blake Williams have raved about Collins’ football intelligence.
“As I got older I started learning, and then being under (Patriots coach) Bill (Belichick), Bill’s a smart coach,” Collins said. “I just learned a lot as I grew.”
Receiver Jordan Leslie has been coming on strong but left practice with what could be a concussion.
“Any time a guy gets hit in the head like that, there’s a possible concussion there,” Jackson said. “We’ll evaluate that and see exactly where he is.”
Leslie was injured while making a 23-yard catch over the middle from Kessler. He also caught an 11-yarder from Kessler and drew a 22-yard pass interference penalty on undrafted rookie cornerback Channing Stribling.
Leslie had four catches for 53 yards Friday in the scrimmage.
The Browns signed receiver Rasheed Bailey and tight end Nate Iese. Defensive lineman Jamal Marcus (ankle) and receiver James Wright (bruised lung) were waived with injury designations.
Bailey (6-1, 205) was undrafted in 2015 and hasn’t played in an NFL game.
Iese (6-2, 249) is a rookie. He switched from linebacker after two seasons at UCLA.
Xavier Cooper, Jabrill Peppers, Tank Carder and Najee Murray had sacks Saturday.
** DeShone Kizer hit receiver Jordan Payton for a 34-yard touchdown when defensive back Alvin Hill fell down.
** Running back Brandon Wilds scored on a 7-yard run. Tight end Taylor McNamara had a good block to spring him.