Odell Beckham Jr. stood on the sidelines in street clothes getting his game face on for the Titans next week.
“I can’t explain my excitement,’’ Beckham told News 5 during the game known as the Great Lakes Classic. “I heard the National Anthem earlier and it’s a trigger song for me. When I heard it tonight, it was the first time I really felt like it was real. In 10 days, we’ll be playing real football. I know that I’m excited. I know that everyone on this team is excited and we’re just ready to go out and have fun with all of the hard work we have put in.”
Beckham hasn’t taken a snap in a preseason game and missed three weeks with a minor hip injury, but got back into team drills this week and back into rhythm with Baker Mayfield.
“Things are settling down for me,’’ he said. “I’ve been learning the ropes and I have my house that I’m about to move into so I’m starting to settle in. It’s getting more and more real, and I guarantee when I hear the National Anthem next week, it will be really real.”
Beckham watched with most of the rest of the starters as some of the young or new receivers such as Miller and Derrick Willies battled to make the 53-man roster, with cuts from 90 to 53 due by 4 p.m. Saturday. Beckham took Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi under his wing this preseason, but it will be hard for him to make the team, especially after he fumbled twice on punt returns.
“You know for these guys this is a dream,’’ Beckham said. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime for them and you want to make the most of these opportunities. It’s unfortunate that not everyone can make it, but I know that these guys are out here battling, and I am out here with any tips and tricks I can give them so that I can be there for them. Like you said, it is a room where I got my brother in there so I am just excited to step on the field with him. I still can’t believe that this happened and it is real.”
Beckham acknowledged that his expectations for the team are high.
“Absolutely, I expect a lot from us,’’ he said. “For me, I’ve always been a person who wants to put up as many points as possible, but having a defense like the one we have, not that we shouldn’t have to put up too many points, but they are going to make a lot of stops. It is just going to be up to us to go out there and puts points up on the board.”
Garrett Gilbert started the game and completed 13-of-24 attempts for 117 yards with one touchdown en route to a 81.4 rating. David Blough played the second half while Baker Mayfield and Drew Stanton got the night off.
Denzel Ward on Greedy Williams
No. 46 overall pick Greedy Williams hasn’t been able to beat out Terrance Williams for a starting job, but he couldn’t have a better mentor than Pro Bowler Denzel Ward. Williams started opposite T.J. Carrie Thursday night with the regulars in street clothes.
“I definitely have taken him under my wing,’’ Ward said on the News 5. “That’s my friend. He’s out there right now. Hope he’s doing good. I really just give him tips and tell him what I went through, as well, when I was a rookie. I was obviously in the same shoes that he’s in now. I just talk to him. He has a lot of confidence. He’s out there, making plays and doing what he has to do.”
Ward watched as Lawrence set the defensive tone for the night with a 6-yard sack of Tom Savage on the Lions’ first play.
“We definitely have a pretty good defense,’’ said Ward. “We let all the hype and everything go to the offense right now. We’ll show what we have to do on defense next week.”
Braxton Miller’s night
Kitchens was eager to watch Braxton Miller, signed two days before the Bucs game last week, and he may have done enough to survive the roster trim to 53 on Saturday.
Miller made a fine leaping grab of a 13-yard Garrett Gilbert pass to dig the Browns out of hole at their own 2 in the second quarter. At halftime, he had caught three of his six targets for 19 yards, including some run-after-catch yardage.
Dorsey praised the former Ohio State quarterback on the telecast.
“We always kind of liked him out of college,’’ said Dorsey. “He’s trying to learn the offense as quick as he can. What Freddie and the guys have done is dial in some plays for him so he can get the ball as quickly as possible and you want to see him run after the catch. He did some nice things in Tampa, he did some nice things here tonight.’’
Miller may have also been helped by a rough outing by one of his challengers, Ishmael Hyman, who had a bad first-quarter stretch with a couple of drops and a pass broken up on three straight plays. He dropped a deep ball near the Lions 20 and another one in the left flat. He couldn’t corral a contested third-down sideline pass.
Dorsey on the trade for Bills guard Wyatt Teller
Dorsey commented on the trade for Teller, 24, on the telecast. Teller will presumably push Eric Kush for the right guard job. Kush was on the sidelines Thursday night while Drew Forbes, who left late in the first quarter with a knee injury, started.
“It gives us some depth at that position,” Dorsey said. "I think [Teller has] got developmental upside. He’s a younger guy. I liked him in college, and I think he can help grow the offensive line.”
Devaroe Lawrence is the man
Lawrence has not only played his way onto the roster this preseason, he’s making a strong case for significant playing time in the tackle rotation with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi. On the Lions’ first play, Lawrence crashed through the middle and sacked backup quarterback Tom Savage for a 6-yard loss. It was his fourth sack of the preseason, including two last week in Tampa.
On the News 5 broadcast, Dorsey praised Lawrence.
“He’s a very infectious personality,’’ said Dorsey. “Guys love him in the locker room. . . . Before he hurt his knee at Auburn, he was a spectacular football player and he kind of got lost in the cracks there and we acquired him in a trade last year with the New Orleans Saints for a seventh-round pick, added some depth. He’s one of those interior guys that we talked about that can spell and add depth to those other two defensive linemen. I’m pleased with how well he has played this preseason.
“He loves the game of football,’’ said Dorsey. “He’s so passionate. Has has an infectious personality."
Kitchens has also praised Lawrence, saying he’s everything the Browns want in a player, and Lawrence promised this week to “give you everything I got until I run out of all my oxygen.’’
How will Lawrence find reps with the premier players in front of him?
“They’re good players, but they run out of oxygen too,’’ said Lawrence. “They're going to get tired, so when they tap on that helmet, I'm gone.’’
Seibert and Gillan handle kicking and punting
Kitchens originally planned to let Greg Joseph and Britton Colquitt handle the kicking game vs. the Lions after letting the two rookies do so in Tampa. But he went off script and gave Austin Seibert and Jamie Gillan another night to make the roster.
Seibert made field goals of 36 and 33 yards with Gillan holding, and kicked two extra points with Gillan holding. He whiffed on a tackle attempt of Brandon Powell on a 67-yard return.
By the fourth quarter, Gillan had punted five times for 216 yards for 43.2-yard average, with one inside the 20. He also made two tackles, one on a punt return and one on a free kick. The Browns really like Gillan, but must determine if he can adequately handle the holding chores and if they’re comfortable with two rookies manning the kicking game. He helped himself against the Lions.
Tight end Seth DeValve, who’s trying to make the team as a hybrid tight end/fullback, played in the first half and caught one pass for 8 yards. …T.J. Carrie, who’s missed much of the preseason with a hamstring injury, got significant reps. …. Chad Thomas and Ray-Ray Armstrong each had sacks. Defensive tackle Dan Ekuale, who started the game next to Lawrence, followed Lawrence’s sack by dropping Mark Thompson for a 3-yard loss. ...Austin Corbett started the game at center and played the whole game. ...Genard Avery came in off the bench at end behind starters Chad Thomas and Anthony Zettel.
Browns fifth-round pick Drew Forbes suffered a knee injury with 45 seconds left in the first quarter and did not return. He started the game at right guard. Cornerback Lenzy Pipkins suffered a back injury midway through the second quarter. The Browns announced before the game that Kareem Hunt underwent sports hernia surgery Thursday morning.