NFL PREVIEWS |

Washington Redskins vs. Cleveland Browns Preview and Predictions

The Cleveland Browns have become a fashionable pick to win the AFC North this season, as they fortified their roster in the wake of a jump from their 0-16 debacle of 2017 to a 7-8-1 record last year, which could have turned into a playoff season if not for some missed kicks. Now that Baker Mayfield has a season under his belt and Odell Beckham to throw to, this team can be very dangerous.

The Washington Redskins, meanwhile, are undergoing a transformation at the quarterback position, as they hope that Case Keenum or Colt McCoy can take the reins while they wait for either (a) Dwayne Haskins to develop into an NFL quarterback, (b) Alex Smith to get healthy enough to eventually get on the field, or (c) both.

These teams will battle in the pre-season opener on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

TV: 7:30 PM ET, Local/ Regional Coverage, NFL Network (replay). LINE: Redskins -2 (-115)  O/U:  35.5.



ABOUT THE REDSKINS: What makes the Redskins' camp intriguing this season is that they would appear to have so much in the way of "upside" on the offensive side of the ball, and these players may have to show it off in order to ensure themselves a job. One of them is running back Derrius Guice, who came as a second-round pick last year but was lost for the entire year in the first pre-season game. There's a good chance he'll split carries this season with Adrian Peterson, who had a nice comeback season in 2018, gaining over a thousand yards, but is not known to be much of a pre-season participant.

Clearly the most intriguing area of attention is at quarterback. Alex Smith, brought over in a trade from Kansas City last season, suffered a gruesome leg injury and may not ever play again, although he is still optimistic about coming back in 2020. Case Keenum, who arrived as a free agent, would be a great pickup if he could approach his performance from two years ago in Minnesota, and not his disappointment in Denver last season. For the time being, Colt McCoy is the #1 man on the depth chart, because of his familiarity with Jay Gruden's offensive scheme. The Redskins hope that first-round pick Dwayne Haskins can provide a long-term answer, but one must keep in mind that he started only one year at Ohio State and does not have experience in the West Coast-type offense employed by Gruden. He is looked upon more as a "project."

Washington believes that it can make the pass rush even better with Montez Sweat, the edge rusher who was the team's second first-round selection out of Mississippi State. He's been dealing wit a leg injury, but Gruden hopes that he can play. Landon Collins was the big off-season addition to the stop unit. The former All-Pro safety, who came from the New York Giants, is getting $45 million in guaranteed money.

ABOUT THE BROWNS:  The difference between this year and last for former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield is that a year ago, he came into training camp as a rookie who was not expected to be thrown into the fire on Day One, and had to earn the respect of his teammates. This year, there is no question that he has assumed the role of on-field leader and has been more assertive with his teammates, even calling some of them out fro time to time, including running back Duke Johnson, who had expressed a desire to be traded.

Mayfield replaced an injured Tyrod Taylor and threw for 27 touchdowns as a first-year player. And because the Browns were so heavily invested in him, they decided that they would promote from within to get a new head coach. So Freddie Kitchens, who had been Mayfield's quarterback coach and then was elevated to offensive coordinator when Hue Jackson got fired, helping to ignite a turnaround that saw Cleveland come within one game of the .500 mark (7-8-1) was given the "permanent" job. The new QB coach is Ryan Lindley, a former San Diego State quarterback.

Excitement has been created with Odell Beckham Jr.'s arrival, as he teams up with friend and former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry. There is also some controversy, as Kareem Hunt, suspended by the NFL and released by Kansas City after an assault against a woman last season, was signed to bolster a running back corps that was already robust with the aforementioned Johnson and Nick Chubb, who had 996 yards on 5.2 yards per carry as a rookie. Hunt will be suspended for the first eight games of the regular season, but he can participate in camp and play in the pre-season. He's on a "zero tolerance" watch, but barely escaped trouble when he was got into an argument outside a Cleveland bar recently. He was questioned by police, but there were no arrests.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Browns' other quarterbacks are Drew Stanton, a 12-year vet who knows his role; David Blough, an undrafted rookie out of Purdue, and Garrett Gilbert, who was picked off four times in the January 2010 BCS title game while a Texas Longhorn, later transferred to SMU, and was probably the best player in the short-lived Alliance of American Football, leading the league in passing yards and passer rating.

2. Redskins safety Landon Collins has made noise on and off the field. He mentioned that there is going to be a "a lot of aggression" when he faces the Giants this year, and may aim some of it at GM Dave Gettleman. Collins said he would give Gettleman "a nice little thud, a little run over,” during pre-game warmups.

3. Samaje Perrine, who once held the one-game NCAA record for rushing yards (while at Oklahoma) will battle it out with Byron Marshall for the last available running back spot with the Redskins. Marshall is said to have an edge because of his ability on special teams.

PREDICTION: Browns 20, Redskins 16

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Capacity: 73,200

Last Injuries

Cleveland Browns

  • Malcolm Pridgeon

    Personal
    I-R | I-R

    Pridgeon will sit out the entire 2020 season due to a personal decision, and his name has emerged on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list.

  • Colby Gossett

    Personal
    I-R | I-R

    Gossett has decided to sit out for the duration of the 2020 season due to a personal reason. His name has emerged on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list as a result.

  • Andrew Billings

    Personal
    I-R | I-R

    Billings has been moved to the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list as he will not perform in the 2020 season due to a personal reason.

  • Karl Joseph

    Foot
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Joseph has wound up on the active PUP list as he is rehabbing from offseason foot surgery. Team management has not indicated yet when he will be activated.

  • Jarvis Landry

    Hip
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Landry has been shifted to the active PUP list while recovering from offseason left hip surgery. There is currently no timetable for return.

  • Garrett Gilbert

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Gilbert has hit the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list, and he will miss an undetermined length of time.

  • Jamie Gillan

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Gillan will have to quarantine for an unknown length while on the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Washington Football Team

  • Reuben Foster

    Knee
    Ques Week 1 | questionable

    Foster is recovering from a torn MCL and ACL, and it is unknown if he will be available for the season opener against the Eagles.

  • Josh Harvey-Clemons

    Personal
    I-R | I-R

    Harvey-Clemons is going to sit out the entire 2020 season due to a personal reason. As a result, the team has put him on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list.