Cleveland Browns' 5 Most Intriguing Preseason Stats So Far
The five most intriguing preseason stats so far for the Cleveland Browns come from both sides of the ball and from special teams, as another new coaching staff era begins.
We are all familiar with the buzzwords and new concepts mentioned since Rob Chudzinski was hired as the team's head coach: "vertical downfield offense," "multi-front attack" and "big guys that can run, little guys that can hit".
But how does that all translate on the field? Glimpses of excellence throughout training camp have been shared with injuries and inconsistency.
Although it is only August, the next five slides will give fans some information to ponder as the September 8 home opener rapidly approaches.
All statistics are courtesy of NFL.com.
5. Kicker: Brandon Bogotay
After an up-and-down training camp, rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay was let loose on Thursday in Cleveland's second preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
Knowing essentially what they have in 12-year veteran leg man Shayne Graham, the spotlight shone on Bogotay, who handled all kickoff, extra-point and field-goal duties.
The 24-year-old was a kickoff specialist in college and definitely has the stronger right foot over Graham. Is he more accurate?
Hitting a three-pointer from 25 yards and missing another from over 50 in the preseason opener, to go along with inconsistent performances in practice, left plenty of questions unanswered.
Thursday's 24-6 exhibition victory over the Lions told us a lot. The San Diego, CA native stepped up to the challenge.
Bogotay launched his first two kickoffs out of the end zone, demonstrating pure power. The accuracy-combined-with-distance question was answered, for now, via a 43-yard field goal. Throw in a pair of PATs and it was an excellent showing for the youngster.
Unfortunately the 6'3", 207-pounder did not play in the second half because of a groin pull.
Shayne Graham took over from there and contributed an extra-point conversion.
4. Kick/Punt Returners
One thing has been proven without a shadow of a doubt this preseason: Travis Benjamin will be returning punts for the Cleveland Browns in 2013.
The second-year speedster had an 80-plus-yard run back for a score negated by a penalty in this Thursday's Detroit matchup. If it stood, Benjamin would have had consecutive games where he took a punt to the house.
His spectacular, untouched 91-yard sprint in Week 1's St. Louis exhibition was a thing of beauty.
After the Lions had that return scare washed out by the officials, they wisely tried to make their following punts more difficult for the Florida native. On three other opportunities Benjamin averaged 4 yards, but was able to bust loose for a long of 13.
The kickoff returner role is a bit more wide open.
Johnson Bademosi and Dion Lewis are the front-runners, with Jordan Norwood as a viable possibility as well once he comes back from injury.
Bademosi and Lewis have been neck-and-neck as far as preseason success has gone.
In the past two weeks both have had a single opportunity at a kickoff. Bademosi ran for 21 and 29 yards in Games 1 and 2 respectively, while Lewis scampered for 31 and 26.
Each offer different skill sets as a return man. Bademosi is a plow-them-down power runner, whereas Lewis brings finesse and quickness. The likely solution is that both will split time.
That was before Lewis suffered a fractured fibula early in the second half of Thursday's 24-6 romp over Detroit.
He will no doubt be reassessed for usefulness on special teams now that Lewis is out.
3. Running Back: Trent Richardson
Any preseason stats for Trent Richardson are intriguing because Thursday's rumble against the Lions was his first-ever exhibition game.
Entering his second NFL season, Cleveland's 2012 first-round pick is looking to squash the idea that he is injury-prone. Avoiding health issues and getting live action reps were the goals, and both got accomplished.
Richardson saw limited playing time and was only given the rock on six occasions.
The former college standout looked pedestrian on his first couple of carries, but you could almost see the rust shaking off him with each touch. Then came that combination of raw power, speed and agility.
T-Rich bulldozed through the defensive line, then spun and half-hurdled his way through the next level. The end result was the type of 17-yard rush that Browns fans hope to see dozens of times throughout this 2013 campaign.
All in all, Richardson gained his jersey number on the ground: 33 yards. A good start.
2. Tight End: Jordan Cameron
The word "potential" has haunted Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron over the past couple of years. For him it has meant the possibility of a huge upside overshadowed by numerous injuries.
Well, Cameron provided a breakout performance in Week 2 of the preseason, which followed a successful first exhibition game: three receptions for 42 yards and a pair of touchdowns on August 15, added onto his single catch for 30 yards seven days prior.
No. 84 made the necessary adjustments from a ball that slammed off his face mask in Week 1 and easily handled quarterback Brandon Weeden's fastballs.
An important note is that Cameron's second TD came from inside the red zone, an area where Cleveland's attack stalled often in 2012.
Under Norv Turner's offense the 6'5", third-year player is learning to exploit the physical mismatches awarded to him for running sharp routes and utilizing his natural athleticism.
Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski mentioned in a halftime interview on television during the Detroit game that a definite chemistry was developing between the 25-year-old tight end and Weeden.
Staying healthy needs to be a top priority for Cameron. If he can do that, then all signs point to this early success carrying over into the matchups that matter.
1. Quarterback Rising: Brandon Weeden
How do you top a 127.7 quarterback rating in the first week of the preseason? By posting a 137.8 in the second exhibition game.
That's exactly what Cleveland's unofficial starting QB did in one-and-a-half quarters of play against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.
Brandon Weeden went 8-for-12, threw for 117-yards and delivered a pair of beautiful touchdown passes to tight end Jordan Cameron. This in the face of a much more aggressive pass rush than the one he faced seven days earlier in the St. Louis matchup.
What has stood out for Weeden through two preseason contests is his accuracy (18-for-25) and poise. No. 3 is not forcing passes that aren't there; he is staying calm when pressured and tossing the ball away if nothing develops.
Deep balls (like the 34-yard lob to Josh Gordon in the first quarter this past Thursday's game) as well as intermediate and short completions are all coming out crisp.
Weeden's comfort and confidence in this new offense is shining through with each series he takes. Unless a face-plant occurs while squaring off with Indianapolis next Saturday, there is no doubt that he is the clear-cut best signal-caller on this football team.
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