Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
The Browns took troubled rookie receiver Antonio Callaway to the team’s preseason opener against the New York Giants Thursday night, but it was not clear if Callaway would join the starters for a series or two or would be disciplined for a citation for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license.
During a traffic stop at 2:59 a.m. Sunday morning, recently released dash cam video revealed Strongsville police also found a gun strap and bullets in Callaway’s vehicle, but no gun. There was no mention of the gun paraphernalia in the police report.
Callaway did not inform the Browns of the search and citation, causing the organization embarrassment and a re-evaluation of trust in Callaway.
An appearance by Callaway in Strongsville Mayor’s Court for Thursday morning was rescheduled for Aug. 23.
Meantime, the Browns will try to extend their preseason winning streak into 2018. What’s that? Don’t remember the 4-0 preseason in 2017?
A year ago, coach Hue Jackson prioritized winning the exhibition games after a 1-15 season in 2016. The Browns won all the games that didn’t count.
Now, after losing all the games that did count, the roster was torn asunder and the priority was changed to galvanize the new veterans and rookies into a cohesive offense and defense.
“We have a lot of new players,” Jackson said. “Watching these guys play together – defensively, offensively and special teams – the goal is to go and evaluate our football team. I think we all know that is what we are trying to do. I want to see Baker [Mayfield] play. And yeah, I want to evaluate our team and in order to do that we have to put them out there and let them play.”
Mayfield is expected to relieve new starter Tyrod Taylor some time in the first quarter and play through the third quarter.
The game is being hyped nationally as a showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks of the 2018 draft – Mayfield and Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Somehow, No. 4 pick Denzel Ward gets lost in the shuffle.
Things I want to see
1. The No. 1 Browns offense move the ball on the No. 1 Giants defense.
All the hype about the new Browns offense disregards the fact the Browns’ No. 1 offense has not scored a touchdown v. the Browns’ No. 1 defense in team drills in practice.
With Callaway possibly held out, Taylor will probably have a receiver tandem of Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins and an offensive line featuring four starters in new positions from a year ago – Joel Bitonio at left tackle, rookie Austin Corbett at left guard, Spencer Drango filling in for injured Kevin Zeitler at right guard, and newcomer Chris Hubbard at right tackle.
2. Ward singled up in coverage against Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham hasn’t played in a game since he broke his right ankle in a game on Oct. 8. He has been practicing regularly despite an ongoing saga for a new contract that is chronicled almost daily in the New York media. The Giants haven’t indicated if Beckham will play.
Ward has received great prep work for his first season by working daily against Jarvis Landry, Beckham’s friend and former college teammate.
3. Mayfield’s extended playing time.
Jackson said Mayfield would play “quite a bit.” There’s a feeling that the Heisman Trophy winner could seize the moment under the lights and amp up the buzz about him.
Did you know …?
1. Former Browns coach Pat Shurmur makes his preseason debut as coach of the Giants. Shurmur was 9-23 as Browns coach in 2011 and 2012. He was let in the regime change when Jimmy Haslam took over as full-time owner. Shurmur was named assistant coach of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings last season.
2. The Giants re-committed to quarterback Eli Manning, 37, when Dave Gettleman was hired as GM to pick up the pieces of a franchise-record 13-loss season. The team supported Manning with the signing of left tackle Nate Solder in free agency, and the drafting of Barkley and offensive guard Will Hernandez.
3. In 2017, the Browns were last in the league with 234 points scored and the Giants were next-to-last with 246.