Exhibition #1 thoughts . . .
Thinking that wide receiver Dez Bryant, the hottest commodity on the National Football League free-agent market, will choose to come to Cleveland is nothing more than folly.
Why would the 29-year-old, eight-year veteran with the Dallas Cowboys want to become a member of the Browns? And why would the Browns want to sign him? After all, he wasn’t good enough for the Cowboys, who cut him in April.
After playing for a franchise with title ambitions on an annual basis, why would Bryant choose to play for a franchise that has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for the better part of two decades?
That makes no sense. If he wants to continue his career at a level that gives him a chance to play in the postseason, he probably will set his sights a lot higher than the Browns.
Besides, he is no longer the solid, dependable receiver who racked up 273 receptions, 41 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards over a three-season span several years back. His numbers the last three seasons signify a regressive pattern.
Sure he‘ll come to town at the behest of Browns General Manager John Dorsey, who has pestered him with phone calls recently. Why wouldn’t he? He’s got nothing to lose.
Neither does Dorsey, who obviously is not satisfied with his wide receivers room, but will attempt to convince Bryant the Browns are trending seriously toward becoming a team that will contend in the next couple of seasons.
Other contenders for Bryant’s services include Green Bay, Houston (staying in Texas), Seattle, New England (Bill Belichick loves seasoned veterans who have had success elsewhere), the New York Giants and Washington. The latter two teams play in the same division as Dallas (revenge factor).
It’s a long shot at best. So get used to the group the Browns have assembled now and cross your fingers, fans, that Josh Gordon and Antonio Callaway get on the straight and narrow and stay there.
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Speaking of Gordon, not to be too concerned if he remains out of training camp for another week or two. His amazing talent will overcome anything he has missed and he should fit right in against Pittsburgh in the season opener. All that remains is getting his timing down with quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
With regard to Callaway, the club addressed the rookie’s off-the-field marijuana problem a few days ago and is satisfied with his explanation. Nevertheless, he was chastised by the front office for being out at three in the morning and warned that further problems could impact his career.
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Rashard Higgins was targeted five times in the 20-10 victory over the Giants Thursday night and caught four balls for 66 yards. The third-year wideout has been a camp favorite of rookie Baker Mayfield.
Higgins also had a good camp last season and then disappeared during the regular season before reemerging in the season finale against Pittsburgh with a three-catch, 68-yard, two-touchdown game. It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Todd Haley uses him this season.
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Rookie running back Nick Chubb received a rude welcome to the NFL, piling up 11 yards on 15 carries against the Giants. He gained most of those yards between the tackles, which is his forte.
When asked to run wide, he showed neither the quickness nor speed to get to the edge and do some damage. A major reason was the very offensive offensive line – he ran with the second- and third-stringers – that provided minimal, at best, running room.
The entire ground game, for that matter, was awful against a swarming New York defense that bottled up just about everything Haley tried when dialing up a running play. That aspect of the offense can't get anything but better because it’s hard to fathom anything worse.
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Denzel Ward was selected fourth overall in the college draft by Dorsey because he want to tighten up the pass coverage. The rookie from Ohio State was rated the best cover cornerback in the lottery.
What Dorsey did not bargain for, at least based on the opening exhibition, was the toughness Ward showed against the run. The kid from Nordonia High School fearlessly stuck his nose in in run support, delivering solid solo hits.
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Notebook: Loved the no-huddle drive that produced the first touchdown against the Giants, Taylor connecting with tight end David Njoku on a 36-yard wheel-route touchdown pass. More please. . . . Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is mindful of Giants start Odell Beckham Jr. with his one-hand grabs, just like his college teammate at Louisiana State. . . . The secret to Callaway’s 54-yard touchdown romp on a simple slant pattern was quickly getting inside position on his man at the snap .The rest was easy as he showed excellent speed . . Mayfield ran only three times (for 13 yards) while escaping the pocket, but converted two third downs on the process.-->