The Cleveland Browns beat the New Orleans Saints 20-14 in their first game of the preseason on Thursday night. Below are five takeaways from the Browns' preseason victory at FirstEnergy Stadium:
After two subpar performances from Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler, rookie DeShone Kizer dazzled in his preseason debut.
First, the second-round selection out of Notre Dame hooked up with Richard Mullaney for a 52-yard pass to set up a 1-yard Terrence Magee touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Then, facing a 4th-and-2 just inside the two-minute warning, Kizer hit Jordan Payton in stride for a 45 throw on what would be the game-winning touchdown.
Playing the entirety of the second half, Kizer completed 11 of his 18 pass attempts for 184 yards and 1 touchdown. Granted, his preseason debut came against backups on the Saints defense, but it'd tough to argue he didn't gain ground on both Osweiler and Kessler in Cleveland's quarterback competition.
Another bright spot for the Browns: first-round picks Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers each saw extended playing time in the first half -- and looked good while doing so.
Getting the start at defensive end, Garrett recorded just one tackle -- for a loss -- but applied plenty of pressure to the quarterback while showcasing the skill set that led Cleveland to select him with the No. 1 overall pick in April.
Myles Garrett from a wide alignment. pic.twitter.com/aqWjvLyp63— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 11, 2017
Myles Garrett is pretty fast.... pic.twitter.com/q1celX391e— All22ChalkTalk (@All22ChalkTalk) August 11, 2017
Whew, Myles Garrett pic.twitter.com/pF8i6a9s6X— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) August 11, 2017
Peppers, meanwhile, subbed in at strong safety with the first-team defense after Ibraheim Campbell suffered a concussion on the second play of the game. Peppers' most promising plays, however, came as a kick returner (27 yards) and punt returner (13 yards) where he showed the kind of burst that could make him a dangerous weapon for the Browns moving forward.
Although he began the week buried on the Browns depth chart, third-year defensive end Nate Orchard looked impressive in extended action, registering two tackles, 0.5 a sack and another QB hit.
If Orchard is going to make Cleveland's final roster, the former second-round pick is going to need to continue to show that he can consistently get to the quarterback, as he did on Thursday.
Flags on the fly
The Browns are a young and largely inexperienced team -- and it showed on Thursday. Cleveland committed 12 penalties against the Saints in their preseason opener, which ultimately cost the Browns 72 yards.
Cleveland's roster has talent -- but it may not matter if it can't get out of its own way. Look for head coach Hue Jackson to place a heavier emphasis on the team avoiding such errors throughout the remainder of the offseason.
It's only a preseason game, but the end result is not without meaning. After all, Jackson said earlier this week that he was placing a heavy emphasis on whether or not his team won or lost its preseason games.
With that in mind, one could call Thursday night's game a success for Cleveland -- especially given the promising play of its young players. Obviously, a victory in the preseason means very little in the long run, but Jackson set out for a goal this preseason -- and in their very first game, the Browns accomplished it.