BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns are feeling good coming off their Week 1 win but the celebration is over as their attention turns to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are coming off a 30-7 shellacking from the San Francisco 49ers.
Here’s our top Brownie Bites to kick off Week 2 of the season.
Still sidelined – Juan Thornhill missed his third consecutive full practice with a calf injury Thursday, and it is unclear when the veteran safety will return. “I would characterize it as day to day,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.” It is unclear when Thornhill suffered the injury, but he was limited during last Wednesday’s practice before sitting out the last two of the work week.
Watt a task – Rookie right tackle Dawand Jones acquitted himself well against the Bengals after being thrust into the lineup when Jack Conklin was carted off after the veteran tore his ACL and MCL. “Dawand’s played at a high level in big games with where he went to college,” Stefanski said. “You’re going to play in some big games, so he understands that. But you can’t and he can’t make this about just him. It’s really about our offense versus their defense in that regard.” Jones, who played 52 snaps in the 24-3 win over the Bengals, gets to go up against five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt on Monday Night Football. “He just does not quit,” Jones said of Watt. “He does not have -- he has a motor of just nonstop moves and my major thing is if I get to limit him to some of them, using my length and my strength to my best ability, I can minimize whatever he has to throw at me.” The 2023 fourth-round pick out of Ohio State doesn’t expect the Steelers to move Watt around Monday night like the Browns do Myles Garrett. “They’re going to try to definitely make me a target,” Jones said. “I have to step up to the plate, step up to the challenge.” In 10 games, Watt has racked up 15.0 sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception against the Browns. Jones is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-8, 374 pounds and presents a bit of a challenge for quarterback Deshaun Watson. “Yeah, I’m going to have to definitely move in the pocket a little bit to create some windows for myself,” Watson said. All kidding aside, Watson believes in Jones. “I’m very confident,” Watson said. “He likes the challenge. He likes to be able to go out there and just play football and do whatever he can for this team, and he’s been learning from all the guys across the line, asking questions… He’s going to make sure that he's ready and prepared to go. So it’s a great task for him and I’m excited for his opportunity.”
Goin’ deep – Sure, Deshaun Watson struggled to throw a wet, heavy football in the season opener that saw the Browns till win by 21, but the quarterback wasn’t alone. “Both sides were having problems with the weather,” Watson said. “It was very, very wet, so the ball was heavy. So yeah, sometimes the weather factors in and you got to change your game plan, but hopefully it’s clear skies on Monday night and we can really get the offense going and throw the ball around a little bit.” Although Watson missed on deep connections to Marquise Goodwin, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, there’s some good news despite the misses. “The opportunities [were] there,” Watson said. “We didn’t capitalize on them and there’s going to be more opportunities for deep shots down the field. We just got to make sure we pick out our spots when we want to take them and hopefully this game, we can capitalize on those and make big plays and get this offense really explosive.”
Turf wars – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell claimed in an appearance on ESPN’s First Take following the Aaron Rodgers season-ending Achilles tear that there are players who prefer turf over natural grass. Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is not one of them “If I had a preference, I would definitely take grass,” Watson said. “I think it’s a little bit more giving, forgiving on the knees and the ankles and things like that. The injury with A-Rod, that’s tough. Not just for the Jets but for the league, for the NFL. I mean that was a great storyline to have him in New York and they had a great team, and he was going to do special things and I’m a fan of him, but to see him go down like that, that’s tough. So I’m sending my prayers towards him, but if I had to pick, I’d pick grass for sure.”
Clean look – The Browns will not wear an orange helmet for the first time since 1950 when they debut their crisp new white helmets featuring a brown-orange-brown stripe down the middle of the crown Monday night. “Super excited,” Watson said. “I mean the unis are fresh, they’re pretty clean and it’s another excitement for us to go out there and just go out there and perform.” The helmets debuted at Thursday’s practice, and dare we say, look better than the traditional orange helmets with the Oreo stripe.
Quote of the day – Linebacker Anthony Walker put Week 1 into perspective for both the Browns and Steelers. “You don’t want to put too much into Week 1,” Walker said. “We don't want to look at our film and think too highly of ourselves and look at their film and think too lowly of them. We have to go and approach this week as its own week and it’s them versus us this week. So that's all it is.”
Injury report – DNP: LG Joel Bitonio (rest), WR Amari Cooper (rest), DE Myles Garrett (rest), LB Anthony Walker (rest), DT Shelby Harris (Achilles), DT Maurice Hurst (hamstring), DT Siaki Ika (foot), S Juan Thornhill (calf); LIMITED: LT Jedrick Wills Jr. (foot)