Coach Hue Jackson stressed the importance of winning this preseason after going 0-4 last year before a 1-15 regular season. After the Browns wrapped up a 4-0 preseason Thursday night, Jackson summed up his feelings.
“I am encouraged,” he said Friday on a conference call. “We were able to accomplish several things.”
He cited rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, the running game and a lack of turnovers as offensive positives.
“We have identified a quarterback that we think we can develop into a good one that can help us win games,” Jackson said. “We had some success running the ball, and we feel like we can really commit to running the ball in the regular season. We did a pretty good job at protecting the ball.
“Defensively, we feel like we were really able to establish an identity along with (coordinator) Gregg Williams and his staff of what we want to be. We were aggressive, relentless to the ball, didn’t miss many tackles and didn’t allow the offense in the end zone many times. We were able to limit big plays, and we got after the quarterback. Those are all ingredients of a winning defense.”
Jackson didn’t leave out special teams. He believes rookie Jabrill Peppers can be a threat as a returner and rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez will be consistent.
FIRST CUTS DEEPEST
The Browns announced 18 roster moves early Friday afternoon before news spread of the release of quarterback Brock Osweiler, offensive lineman John Greco, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper and kicker Cody Parkey.
The Browns must be down to the league maximum of 53 players by Saturday at 4 p.m. and have eight moves left to make.
The first moves Friday were placing rookie cornerback Howard Wilson (knee) on the physically unable to perform list, terminating the contracts of defensive lineman Brandon Thompson and receiver Josh Boyce and waiving receivers Mario Alford, Rasheed Bailey and Richard Mullaney, defensive backs Trey Caldwell, Christian Bryant, J.D. Harmon, Alvin Hill and Channing Stribling, tight ends Nate Iese and Taylor McNamara, linebackers B.J. Bello and Ladell Fleming, offensive lineman Kitt O’Brien, defensive lineman Karter Schult and running back Brandon Wilds (injury designation).
None of the moves is a surprise, with Caldwell the only draft pick. He was a fifth-round pick in 2016, spent most of last year on the practice squad and played in one game.
“It is always a tough day when you have to tell players they will no longer have the opportunity to be with your team,” Jackson said. “I tell each of them to never give up on their dreams and to keep working hard towards it because more opportunities will arise.”
Rookie tackle Rod Johnson, a fifth-round pick, will miss time with a knee injury suffered Thursday. Jackson said he’ll undergo further tests.
** Rookie running back Matthew Dayes, a seventh-round pick who’s had a great preseason, will be fine after taking a hit to the head, according to Jackson.
** Offensive line coach Bob Wylie fell hard after being run into on the sideline.
“He is OK, but he did take a nasty fall,” Jackson said. “I think they were trying to hold him up, and all of a sudden, he got a little close to the action. He took a pretty good spill, but he got up, finished the game and he is in here today and doing well.”
LIFE AFTER JOE
Jamar Taylor is expected to be the No. 1 cornerback after Joe Haden was cut Wednesday and signed with the Steelers, but Jackson didn’t want to label a second starter. Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jason McCourty will also see plenty of action.
“We don’t really have starters because we play in so many different packages,” Jackson said.
He said any of the top three corners could move inside to cover the slot receiver.
** Jackson isn’t worried about Haden passing along secrets to the Steelers.
“Obviously, there are certain things he will know, but I don’t put a lot of stock into that because I think what is important is guys still have to play the game,” Jackson said. “Sometimes you can be given information, and it might be the wrong information.”
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton donated $25,000 to three animal groups to help with Hurricane Harvey relief.
Pets affected by the hurricane could face health risks for weeks or months, according to Petplan.