The Cleveland Browns are coming to town for the third preseason game of 2019. This game has historically been an opportunity where the starters receive the most playing time, but recent coaching adjustments has put player safety at a higher priority. The Browns elected to sit most of their starters for week two, and it is still unclear if they will play at all against the Buccaneers. Even with this unknown, lets take a look at the strengths of the Cleveland Browns.
The wide receiving core in Cleveland is deep, really deep. Even if Odell Beckham Jr. sits, the depth at the position should provide a challenging test for a young Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. Beckham Jrs. teammate at LSU, Jarvis Landry, is also well known for his spectacular catches and ability to make plays from the slot.
Rashard Higgins has put on a strong showing, and is likely the wide receiver three to start the season. While he does not excel at one particular skill, his all-around play style is a good test for a young secondary.
Another player, although not technically a wide receiver, is David Njoku. The third year tight end is a mismatch when lined up against most linebackers. At 6’4″ 246, Njoku ran a 4.64 30 yard dash and should give Devin White an opportunity to cover an up and coming tight end.
One of the top defensive ends in the NFL, Myles Garrett is coming into his third season after amassing 20.5 sacks in two years. It is unclear if Garrett will play on Friday. Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on Tuesday that Garrett was “banged up”, but did not provide specifics.
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If he were to play, Garrett would likely have his way with an offensive line is struggling in the preseason. Donovan Smith, a constant whipping boy for Buccaneers fans, struggled in his few snaps against the Miami Dolphins. Garrett should at least tune up Smith for a dangerous San Francisco 49ers defensive front come week one.
Another defensive lineman that could provide trouble to an unimpressive Buccaneers offensive line is Sheldon Richardson.
After spending four years with the New York Jets, Richardson bounced around the league before signing with the Browns this offseason. At 6’3″ almost 300 pounds, Richardson is a true run stuffing defensive tackle. He will likely line up against Alex Cappa, who has come on strong this preseason. Richardson is no pushover, and with a strong defensive line in general, Cappa will be asked to engage defenders one on one.
If Cappa can show that he can hold his own, he will provide some relief to Buccaneers fans who feared the lack of talent at right guard.
To be honest, it is hard to find a position on the Browns that show signs of weakness. You could argue that cornerback could be stronger, but the team spent draft capital on Greedy Williams. The only true position of need in my opinion is kicker, at least we finally found ours!