Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah shine for Browns in 23-13 preseason victory over Jaguars – cleveland.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and most of the Browns’ prominent offensive weapons did their work well before the team’s preseason opener against the Jaguars kicked off and became a 23-13 Cleveland victory.
Mayfield was on the field a little more than two hours before kickoff throwing to wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku while members of the offensive coaching staff watched.
When the Browns finally took the field, it was backup quarterback Case Keenum leading the way, taking offensive snaps for the first time since he relieved Mayfield on Oct. 18 in Pittsburgh last season.
Keenum relied heavily on one of the players who might not be a starter, but will be a key contributor, Donovan Peoples-Jones. He caught the first pass of the game from Keenum for 15 yards and, on the Browns’ second drive, made back-to-back catches, including a third-down conversion that had to make Beckham smile, hauling the ball into his body with one hand before he fell out of bounds.
Perhaps the only blemish on Peoples-Jones’ night was when he failed to haul in a deep ball from Keenum with Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson grabbing at his arms down the right sideline. Peoples-Jones ended his night with a misleading three catches for 26 yards in a performance better than the statistics showed.
On the defensive side, the much-heralded cornerback battle between Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome II still hasn’t materialized. Both players started, but neither made a significant move. Newsome came close on a heave by Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence at the end of the first quarter, failing to rip the ball away from wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on a 35-yard catch as the two fell to the ground.
One rookie who did shine was second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
He made his first appearance at linebacker with 8:36 left in the second quarter and collected his first sack two plays later against quarterback Gardner Minshew II, cleaning up the play after defensive end Joe Jackson staggered Minshew. The Jaguars had a mix of first and second-team O-linemen on the field for the play.
Owusu-Koramoah came close to blocking a Jaguars punt in the first half, too, and ran untouched through the line of scrimmage in the third quarter to tackle running back Dare Ogunbowale for a two-yard loss, showing the athleticism the Browns coveted when they traded up for him.
“They’re definitely flying around and that’s exactly what we want to see as coaches,” defensive coordinator Joe Woods said on the team’s TV broadcast at halftime when the performance of his young players, specifically Owusu-Koramoah, was brought up.
The Browns’ second unit also got contributions from rookie safety Richard LeCounte, who nearly intercepted Minshew on a deep pass down the left sideline out of the two-minute warning in the first half. LeCounte made up for it at the end of the half, intercepting Minshew’s Hail Mary attempt.
Early on, the Browns’ pass rush was able to create pressure on Lawrence, the No. 1 pick last May in Cleveland, despite playing without Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Malik Jackson. Defensive tackle Sheldon Day registered a strip sack on the Jaguars’ first offensive play. Cameron Malveaux was a constant in the backfield on the Jags’ opening drive. Defensive end Porter Gustin collected a sack on the Browns’ second defensive series.
Later in the half, on a fourth-and-1 attempt by the Jaguars from the Browns’ 43, Jackson helped defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and linebacker Malcolm Smith corral running back James Robinson.
* Keenum was relieved by Kyle Lauletta with 6:27 left in the second quarter. He finished his night completing 12 of 17 passes for 115 yards and an 89.1 rating.
* The highlight of the night for Lauletta was a 27-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Davion Davis with 13 seconds left in the first half. He also found Ryan Switzer for a 7-yard score with 4:28 left in the game. He finished the night 19-for-27 for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
* Demetric Felton’s first snap came on the opening drive when he lined up in the slot on the right side. Two plays later, he lined up in the slot on the left side and registered his first catch.
Felton hauled in a 25-yard pass from Lauletta with 3:14 left in the opening half and finished his night with four catches for 44 yards.
* Chase McLaughlin was first up in the kicking competition. He made a 37-yard kick to put the Browns ahead, 3-0, with 10:40 left in the opening quarter. He converted extra points after Davis’ touchdown catch to get the game to its halftime score, 13-0 and after Switzer’s touchdown catch.
Cody Parkey connected from 34 yards with 8:41 left in the second quarter for a 6-0 lead. Parkey also banked in a 48-yarder with 6:11 left in the third to make it 16-0.
Neither kicker missed.
* Lawrence completed six of nine passes for 71 yards.
* The Browns were without wide receivers Anthony Schwartz (hamstring) and Alexander Hollins (hamstring), safeties Grant Delpit (hamstring), Sheldrick Redwine (ankle) and Ronnie Harrison Jr. (hamstring), cornerback M.J. Stewart Jr. (hamstring), linebackers Montrel Meander (hamstring) and Tony Fields II (foot), defensive tackle Malik McDowell (rib) and Garrett (hamstring).
* Linebacker Anthony Walker, cornerback Denzel Ward, safety John Johnson III and cornerback Troy Hill were among the defensive starters who didn’t play. On offense, along with Mayfield, Beckham, Landry, Njoku and Hooper, the entire starting offensive line was on the sideline. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt also sat out.
* Linebacker Mack Wilson left in the first quarter with what was announced as a shoulder injury. He did not return.
* Tight end Stephen Carlson left in the second quarter with a knee injury.
* Cornerback Kiondre Thomas left with a hamstring injury.