CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Browns head to halftime of their Monday night preseason battle against the New York Giants leading 7-3.
Here are three observations from the first half of the Browns' second preseason game:
Perhaps the most significant play for the Browns on Monday night came even before kickoff. During the playing of the national anthem, multiple members of the Browns roster knelt in a circle with other teammates placing their hands on their kneeling teammates' shoulders.
The apparent protest comes a week to the day after Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson indicated that he hoped his players wouldn't become a part of the growing number of players participating in such demonstrations. National anthem protests have grown in prominence over the past year as players attempt to bring attention to what they see as racial injustice in America.
Jackson's comments were widely debated and criticized, with Hall of Fame tight end and FS1 host Shannan Sharpe calling the second-year Browns head coach a "clown." On the final day of training camp last week, Jackson sought to clarify his comments with a more than two-minute prepared statement, saying, "I respect and support their right for peaceful protest; a right afforded to every American. We’ve always made it clear to our players that they should embrace the platform they have as NFL players to improve our community and use their platform in a positive, thoughtful and responsible manner."
Jackson's players appear to have taken him up on just that. But whether they did so defiantly or in conjunction with their head coach will be telling in regards to Jackson's relationship with the Browns' locker room moving forward.
Up in the air
The biggest position battle on the Browns' roster remains the right to become the team's starting quarterback -- and nothing in the first half indicated that has changed. Getting his second straight preseason start, Brock Osweiler played just two series', completing 6 of his 8 pass attempts for 25 yards.
But aside from his failure to move the ball downfield -- or score his team points -- the most telling part of the first half for Cleveland's current starter was the interception he threw to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to bring the Browns' opening drive for a close. With this perhaps being his last chance to strengthen his grip on Cleveland's starting quarterback job before the team's preseason "dress rehearsal" against Tampa Bay on Saturday, it'd be tough to argue Osweiler did just that.
For the second consecutive preseason game, the Browns' first-team defense turned in an impressive performance, limiting the Giants to just 99 yards throughout the entire first half.
In particular, linebacker Joe Schobert looked impressive, tallying 5 tackles, a sack and a pass defended. And with Tank Carder leaving the game due to a knee injury, Schobert's big showing couldn't have come at a better time as Cleveland may have just found its new starting middle linebacker.
No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett registered his first preseason sack as a Cleveland Brown on the final series of the half.
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