CLEVELAND -- On Friday night, the Cleveland Browns returned to FirstEnergy Stadium for the first time since their Christmas Eve victory against the San Diego Chargers, the only win they had in the 2016 season, for the annual Orange and Brown Scrimmage.
During the scrimmage, the first-team offense went against the second-team defense, and the second-team offense took on the defensive starters, and the only touchdown of the full-contact practice came on the opening kickoff when wide receiver Mario Alford took the ball up the left sideline for the score.
Here are four takeaways from Friday night’s scrimmage.
DEFENSE AHEAD OF OFFENSE
Despite having a new coordinator and different points of emphasis than in 2016, the defense looks to be ahead of the offense at this juncture of the season.
The fact that both defensive units kept the opposing offenses out of the end zone and limited them to three field goals, two from rookie Zane Gonzalez and one from former Pro Bowler Cody Parkey, means the quarterback competition will continue into a second week.
“There was spotty play here and there,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We will just keep growing from that. That wasn’t, to me, a true indication of who they are and what they are. It was good to get them in our stadium, on our field, around our fans and see what that is going to be like so that next Thursday night is not new to them. They all will understand what that feels like and looks like.”
POSSIBLE QB CHANGE COMING
Although the quarterback competition will continue into its second week, the order of appearance could change in the near future.
Second-year player Cody Kessler was the first-team quarterback for the entire offseason and much of the first week of training camp with rookie DeShone Kizer getting spot reps with the expected starting lineup, while veteran Brock Osweiler has been handling the offense with the reserves.
“Absolutely, I will, I have to,” Jackson said. “We have a game next Thursday. I will definitely look at it. As I said to all of you the other day, it doesn’t mean whichever road we decide to travel for next Thursday is the starter for the season.”
GARRETT CONTINUES TO DEVELOP
The Browns invested a lot of faith into defensive end Myles Garrett when they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he has repaid them with unparalleled effort during drills and by running 100-yard sprints following every practice.
Garrett spent much of the Orange and Brown Scrimmage in the opposing backfield, making several tackles for lost yardage, including being credited with two sacks by the officials, even though the coaches said he really registered four.
“He is a good player,” Jackson said. “He did some good things.”
SEASONING UP THE DEFENSE
Last season, the Browns ranked near the bottom of the NFL in several statistical categories, most notably points, yards and rushing yards allowed. The Browns ranked 30th in points allowed (28.2), as well as 31st in yards (392.4) and rushing yards (142.7) per game.
But now, in addition to Garrett, the Browns have a safety willing to deliver big hits on opponents, and that is rookie Jabrill Peppers, who had an impressive showing in the scrimmage.
“He is coming on -- just more comfortable, playing more plays, understanding the defense better,” Jackson said. “I saw him smack a couple of people, which is good. That is who he is, and that is what we think he will bring to the table. I thought he caught the punts really well and kickoffs. Jabrill is a good football player. He is going to contribute to this team.”
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