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Notes: Martin Emerson Jr. calls corners ‘best trio in the world’

The Browns cornerbacks were already a confident bunch. Then they shut down the vaunted receiver trio of the Bengals on Sunday in the 24-3 season-opening win.

“Honestly, I feel like we have the best trio in the world in our cornerbacks and I feel like we just have to keep improving every day and just keep building,” Martin Emerson Jr. said Monday. “I feel like we don’t have a ceiling, honestly. I feel like we started off right and we just got to keep making positive steps, just one play at a time.”

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Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II join Emerson in the trio. Ward and Newsome are the starters, with Emerson joining in the nickel package and pushing Newsome into the slot.


Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw for only 82 yards on 31 attempts (2.64 per attempt). The yardage, completion percentage (45.2) and passer rating (52.2) were the lowest of his career. Ja’Marr Chase (five catches, 39 yards), Tee Higgins (zero catches) and Tyler Boyd (two for 10) are considered the best receiver group in the league but were held to seven catches for 49 yards on 20 targets.

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“It’s hard to single guys out because the performance was so good, but if I could, I’d talk about our corners,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I thought they played really, really well. Challenged a really, really good pass attack.”

Burrow also gave credit where credit was due.

“Denzel and Emerson are two of the better corners in the league. Newsome is a great nickel, too,” he said. “They have a great secondary.”

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Emerson didn’t need the validation.

“I appreciate it. That’s always just respect,” he said. “I appreciate him acknowledging us, but it don’t really mean too much, I guess. I mean, we feel that way anyway and our team feels that way. We just got to keep proving it week in and week out.”


The comfortable win came despite a lack of success in the deep passing game. Deshaun Watson’s longest completion was 33 yards to Elijah Moore, and he missed two downfield shots to Marquise Goodwin and one to Amari Cooper.

“There were opportunities that we couldn’t connect on a few of them, but bottom line is we got to always look for those big plays down the field if they’re there,” Stefanski said. “If they’re not there, we have other options. But part of this game and part of every game is going to be trying to find explosives in the pass game.”

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The weather wasn’t the sole explanation for the struggles but was a factor.

“The ball was heavy and wet. It was a constant mist. It was strange,” Stefanski said. “I did not know it was going to rain and then, lo and behold, it’s coming down in some weird sheets without raindrops. I don’t know how to describe it.”

Goodwin was targeted those two times and didn’t have a catch but showed why the Browns valued his speed so much in free agency.

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“His speed is world-class,” Stefanski said. “He can really do it all. He will utilize that speed, but that speed allows you to run a lot of different routes. So he’s somebody that we’re excited to have and looking forward to doing some things with him really throughout the season.”


In addition to Goodwin, the opener was a major milestone for linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki.

Walker (torn quadriceps tendon) and Takitaki (torn anterior cruciate ligament) suffered season-ending injuries last year and didn’t play this preseason. Goodwin missed all of training camp and the preseason with blood clots, leaving his career in doubt.

Walker played 33 of 55 defensive snaps Sunday, Takitaki 23 and Goodwin 10.

“How nice was it just to see him back out there on the football field for everything that he’s been through in the last few months,” Stefanski said of Goodwin. “And I told him that. Just him being out there in uniform, Takitaki being out there, A-Walk. What these guys go through and then out there performing is fun for us to see and there’s so much work that goes into it that we don’t see.


Emerson said the Browns would’ve played with the same energy even if Chase hadn’t been so dismissive of them last week in an interview. But Emerson had a reaction to Chase saying he almost called the Browns the “Elfs” and “Cleveland is Cleveland.”

“Every game we coming out on a mission,” Emerson said. “But how do I want to say this? He did disrespect us and whatever he say, you got to stand on it, and I feel like they didn’t back that up.”

Newsome and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah tweeted “Cleveland is Cleveland” after the game. Emerson was asked how he wants that to be defined.

“Anybody can call on the tape to just see that we fly around, play fast, play together,” he said. “And that every Sunday, going to have to scrap up, put your big pads on and come out and play because we’re coming as well.”


Right guard Wyatt Teller engaged with Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt near the line of scrimmage and took him 20 yards downfield before driving him into the ground on a running play.

“He does some amazing stuff,” center Ethan Pocic said. “That was a crazy block. Definitely, definitely gets you hyped up for sure.”

Stefanski said the grind-it-out nature of the game due to the weather suited Teller.

“He played well,” Stefanski said. “That’s his brand of football. When he can lock his hands on you and he’s so big and so strong and to see him finish a player down the field, that’s kind of offensive linemen’s dream right there to be able to do that all the way down the field. It speaks to his mentality, which in turn speaks to our offensive line’s mentality.”


Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. went to the X-ray room after the game, but Stefanski said he’s fine. Wills played all 74 offensive snaps.

** Jerome Ford lost a fumble and Watson threw an interception, but the rest of the performance was so strong the Browns beat the odds and won despite a minus-2 turnover margin.

“Being minus-2 is not a way to consistently win,” Stefanski said.

** Stefanski singled out Mike Ford Jr.’s play on special teams.

** Donovan Peoples-Jones led the receivers with 66 snaps. Moore played 51 and Amari Cooper 46. Cooper left for a bit after slipping on the wet grass.

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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