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The Cleveland Browns enter the season safe and, for once, very sound -- Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

In his first camp, Freddie Kitchens has brought the Browns to the starting line healthy and primed for their best year in decades.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates in the second half of the team's NFL football preseason game against the Buffalo Bills in Cleveland. The Browns sure know a lot about losing, but that changed last season when then-rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield helped Cleveland win five of its last seven games. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

CLEVELAND — The Browns preseason is over.

I don’t know about you but I thought it would never leave.

Ben Franklin (not the running back, that was Ben Gay) famously said that after three days guests and fish start to stink. 

So does the preseason, even sooner than the third game.

As currently constructed to gouge season ticket holders, the exhibition season will one day be looked at as an unnecessary evil. This one was harder to tolerate in part because of the anticipation for what comes next.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact the Browns are 1-18-1 in season openers since 1999, that they are 15 years removed from their only win, and that people still can’t wait for Sept. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.

Yes, that’s the case every September here. But not like this year.

Freddie Kitchens has added to the anticipation, not only by keeping his starters healthy but by handling his first camp like a veteran coach.

He’ll face a hundred different challenges beginning with the opener but he brings with him a talented cast on offense and defense that has good reason to trust him (so far) as a demanding protector.

Baker Mayfield found the prolonged exposure he wanted in Tampa, and some things to work on.

Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb were not needlessly exposed to big hits from opponents desperate to make enough noise to earn a roster spot.

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Myles Garrett? Still mostly unblockable. So he went back on the shelf.

Have the Browns risked entering the season rusty? Not much more than any other team.

Did other Browns coaches fail to prepare their teams for the opener? Is that why the record is so abysmal?

More often, a talent shortage (usually starting at quarterback) played a bigger role in ruining the occasion.

That won’t be the case this time. This season clearly has that new-car feel. 

And smell, too.

Almost like a new Rolls with a pop-up hood ornament.

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  • If the NFL insists on keeping a fourth exhibition game, a new rule should mandate it be played with a running clock.
  • Or a 50 percent refund.
  • Obviously, players trying to make NFL rosters use the exhibition games for exposure. Coaches covet chances to evaluate players. 

All that said, Kitchens might admit he got as much out of joint practices with the Colts as he did out of Thursday’s exhibition game against the Lions.

If the NFL wants to keep all four games and not gouge season ticket holders, fine. But otherwise I offer a solution.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the demand for international games is outpacing the supply?

Can we interest the world in some friendlies?

  • Kareem Hunt’s sports hernia surgery will require four to six weeks of healing.

That’s different than the online headline that said he will “be out four to six weeks.”

You can’t be out four to six weeks if you are already out eight games on a suspension.

  • I’ll give You Said It contributors time to catch up to that math. We good? OK.
  • Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen warns that the idea of U.S. women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd kicking in the NFL is better in theory than in practice.

“Sound sweet til somebody block the kick and all of a sudden she on defense,” Allen wrote in a social media post. “Would be like the stampede scene in the lion king movie.”

Unlike now where someone blocks a kick and it’s like the stampede scene in the lion king movie?

  • I have two words for Keenan Allen. Garo Yepremian.
  • Sensing that some reporters thought Bill Belichick didn’t know Andrew Luck retired when he commented on the Colts quarterback earlier this week, the Patriots issued a clarification saying their head coach was “not oblivious” regarding Luck’s recent announcement.

Just oblivious to non-football things.

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  • NFL coaches often suffer tunnel vision.

With rock concert scaffolding being built around him one day at practice in 1981, Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil was asked if he were a fan of the headline act, the Rolling Stones.

“No,” Vermeil told us. “But my kids read their magazine.”

  • Jacksonville long snapper Matt Overton, who spent five seasons with the Colts, has offered to buy tickets from Indy fans who asked for refunds after Luck’s announcement.

Overton will donate the tickets to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

I don’t think Overton meant to shame Colts fans spoiled by 24 years of Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck into keeping them. But he probably just shamed Colts fans into keeping them.

  • Colts head coach Frank Reich says his team is in “good hands” with Jacoby Brissett as the starter.

We were expecting him to say otherwise?

Johnson was never a three-down back for the Browns.

He departed wanting more carries. If his work load increases as much as some think it might, now he might have reason to want more cartilage.

  • Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo says he purposely throws into coverage during preseason.

“You try things like that,” Garoppolo told KNBR via NBCSportsBayArea.com. “You know, during a real game, you wouldn’t make that throw or that decision, but there’s a trust factor between quarterback and whoever’s catching the ball. The more you try those things, you see who’s going to make the play for you in a crucial situation.”

If you had five consecutive passes intercepted in one practice and saw your first four passes against Denver get tipped or intercepted, you would say that, too.

  • Maybe Brandon Weeden was just testing his receivers here during the season?
  • Have a weekend. 

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