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Joe Schobert is thriving at middle linebacker for the Browns. (Joshua Gunter /

BALTIMORE, Maryland — Cleveland Browns scribbles as they prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens:

1. Some good news … sort of. The last time the Browns won a road game in Baltimore wasn’t that long ago: October 11, 2015. The final score was 33-30, in overtime. The only starters left on the roster from that victory are Joe Thomas, Isaiah Crowell, Christian Kirksey and Nate Orchard. Duke Johnson also was a key player.

2. Here’s the bad news: Since that game, the Browns have a 2-27 record. Yikes!

3. But it’s a new season, it’s new day. That’s a line from an Israel Houghton gospel song. And the Browns have added an old/new receiver to the roster. I’m talking about Rashard Higgins. He was promoted from the practice squad. He also was a fifth-round pick by the Browns in 2016.

4. The Browns started Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt at receiver against Pittsburgh. Duke Johnson was on the field for 50 of the 66 offensive snaps. He was mostly a slot receiver, never a running back.

5. We’ll see if all of them are active. The Browns picked up receivers Sammie Coates and Kasen Williams on waivers right before the season opened. They also have Ricardo Louis. Now, Higgins. If you count them all up — including Johnson — that’s seven receivers! Can’t imagine all of them being active.

6. But piling up receivers shows how the Browns don’t really seem sold on anyone except Coleman, who had an excellent game with five catches in the 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh. Coleman caught 5-of-6 passes thrown to him. The one incompletion was not something he could catch.

7. It’s important to remember Williams does more than yell at his players. He teaches the game, and he’s very creative. He also has a fun way of talking at times, sounding like a throw-back to the 1950s Beat Generation. Here’s how he described linebackers Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert and Jamie Collins: “Those three cats are good.”

8. The three cats played every defensive snap. Williams explained: “Those three cats can play, so it’s not very smart for me to take them off the field very many times.”

9. Let’s see if safety Jabrill Peppers is playing very deep, as he did against Pittsburgh. At times, Peppers was 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Williams explained: “The No. 1 deep-throwing team in the NFL for four straight years is the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Ben (Roethlisberger) is throwing short, everyone is smiling.”

10. The defense gave up a lot of short passes to the Steelers. In the end, the defense allowed only 14 points to Pittsburgh. That’s a good day, smart strategy.

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BALTIMORE — The Cleveland Browns knew there would be days like this. But when they arrive, they are painful to experience.

DeShone Kizer threw three interceptions (one in the end zone), lost a fumble and missed one quarter with a migraine in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Ravens. On the scale of rookie “just have to live with it” experiences, this one ranked about as high as possible; Kizer produced no points and had the four turnovers. The 10 points that the Browns scored came from backup QB Kevin Hogan. Baltimore’s win was a good deal more one-sided than the score would indicate.

What it means: A day that on paper looked like it would be tough turned out to be just that. The Browns were sloppy (seven first-half penalties, 11 total), turned the ball over (three times in the first half alone, five total) and defensively gave up three touchdowns in the first half to Joe Flacco, who missed the entire preseason with a back injury. Kizer missed about one quarter with a migraine, but returned in the third quarter and struggled. Chalk this one up to a painful learning experience against a Ravens team that was superior physically even though they were without their best lineman on both sides of the ball for some of the second half (Brandon Williams, who suffered a foot injury, and Marshal Yanda, who is out for the season after breaking his ankle).

What I liked: Hogan showed no fear in replacing Kizer in the second quarter. Hogan scored the first points the Ravens’ defense has allowed this season on a 23-yard TD throw to David Njoku, set up by a 49-yard throw to Seth DeValve. Hogan made a bad decision throwing across his body into a trio of Ravens for an interception, but the fact that he stepped in and was not immediately overwhelmed is a good sign for the backup.

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It was a Murphy’s Law kind of day for the Cleveland Browns’ offense against the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North Division battle at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Sunday.

From poor passes being converted into interceptions to points off of turnovers and backup quarterback Kevin Hogan being pressed into service when starting quarterback DeShone Kizer was pulled from the game because of migraines in the second quarter, just about everything that could go wrong did for the Browns.

And the home team turned those miscues into late second-quarter points from which the Browns (0-2) were unable to recover on the way to a 24-10 loss to the Ravens (2-0).

The Ravens and Browns traded punts over the first two drives of the game, but on Cleveland’s second possession, Kizer held onto the ball too long and had an up-close-and-personal meeting with Baltimore outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

As he has on most of his meetings with quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage throughout his prolific career, Suggs got the best of Kizer and forced a fumble on the sack that the Ravens recovered at Cleveland’s 33-yard line.

Seven plays later, former Browns running back Terrance West rushed for a four-yard touchdown, which gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead with 3:56 to play in the first quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Kizer moved the Browns from their own 25-yard line out to Baltimore’s 26, but on a swing pass to running back Duke Johnson, he was intercepted by longtime NFL safety Eric Weddle at the line of scrimmage.

Although the Browns got the ball back on an interception just four plays later, they failed to capitalize on the turnover and again, punted to the Ravens.

Then, Baltimore used chunk plays to move the ball down the field, getting a 12-yard run from West, and later, a 20-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to former Browns tight end Benjamin Watson. On the very next snap, Flacco went back to Watson for a 23-yard gain.

Two plays later, Flacco took a snap on second and six, rolled out to his right and despite the passing lane being clogged with several Browns defenders, fired a nine-yard touchdown pass to running back Javorius Allen for a 14-0 lead.

Into the game for Kizer, Hogan engineered a five-play, 83-yard drive and capped it off with a 23-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end David Njoku, which cut Baltimore’s lead down to a single score, 14-7, with 4:56 to play in the first half.

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Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

BALTIMORE — Analyzing four key moments in the Browns’ 24-10 loss to the Ravens.

1. The Browns defense was on its heels early in Sunday’s game, but it appeared in good position to limit the Ravens to an early field goal with 4 minutes to play in the first quarter.

One penalty changed everything, though, and the Ravens got in the end zone on the very next play.

On second-and-goal from the 10-yard line, the Ravens picked up 2 yards to set up third-and-goal. After the play, linebacker Christian Kirksey was tangled up with Ravens offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley. The action went too long for the officials’ liking, and Kirksey was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving Baltimore half the distance to the goal line and setting up a first down.

Terrence West ran it in on the very next play, and the Ravens never trailed again. The penalty was one of seven for the Browns in the first half.

2. On just his second play from scrimmage, quarterback Kevin Hogandelivered the Browns’ longest offensive play to date to get the team moving.

Hogan rolled out and found tight end Seth DeValve for a 49-yard pass to put Cleveland in Ravens territory. It was the longest play of the respective careers of both the quarterback and receiver.

The Browns were in the end zone a few plays later when Hogan found another tight end, David Njoku, for his first career touchdown pass. The impressive drive, which came in a tough spot as Hogan relieved starter DeShone Kizer(migraine), went 83 yards and brought the Browns within a touchdown midway through the second quarter.

3. In position to set up a potential field goal before the half, the Browns experienced a 10-point swing that had a dramatic effect on the rest of the game.

Stationed at Baltimore’s 40-yard line with 29 seconds to play, Hogan rolled out and threw well off his target for an interception. He took crushing hits twice on the play as Tyus Bowser returned the pick to Cleveland’s 40.

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Cleveland’s 2nd-year safety played the tip drill to perfection

Derrick Kindred‘s promising rookie season was short-circuited by an injury he suffered during the team’s bye week. He ended the year with plenty of good film, but no interceptions.

The second-year safety made sure to check off that box in a hurry Sunday.

With Pittsburgh in striking distance to score a deflating touchdown, Kindred nabbed a deflected Ben Roethlisberger pass to secure the first interception of his NFL career.

“It was an awesome feeling to finally get my hands back on the ball,” Kindred said. “I didn’t get a pick last year, so it was a blessing to come out here and open the season up with an interception.”

We combed through the All-22 film and talked with Kindred to learn more about how the play came to be.

Facing a third-and-9 at the 29, Cleveland was in no position to surrender any points as it trailed 21-10 early in the fourth quarter. Kindred, as he did on many occasions throughout the game, lines up 19 yards off the ball.

“We had a lot of balls go over our head last year due to inexperience and things like that,” Kindred said. “We’re trying to work on that this year and break downhill on those plays.”

Jabrill Peppers flanks him on the other side of the field. The Steelers have Antonio Brown lined up to the left, Martavis Bryant to the right in the slot and JuJu Smith-Schuster near the right sideline.

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CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 10: The Cleveland Browns run onto the field with members of the military, police, fire and EMS before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns dropped their season opener, but some of the individuals in the DPD pick ’em pool fared a bit better in Week 1.

And just like that, Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is in the books. The week began with an upset from the Kansas City Chiefs over the New England Patriots in shocking fashion as everyone in our pick ’em pool started with a loss, and continued Sunday afternoon as the Cleveland Browns lost yet another season opener

The week was capped off with the Denver Broncos blocking a field goal as time expired against the Los Angeles Chargers with a final score of 24-21.

Anyway, here’s how the standings shook out after Week 1’s picks:

  1. Thomas Moore: 12 Points
  2. Brandon Onda:  11 points
  3. Josh Dentler: 11 points
  4. Steven Kubitza: 11 points
  5. Joel Cade: 10 points
  6. Roger Cohen: 10 points
  7. Andrew Seibt: 9 points
  8. Derek Bryner: 9 points
  9. Jared Wackerly: 9 points
  10. Matt Stevenson: 8 points
  11. Clayton Braham: 6 points
  12. Johnathan Goehring: 6 points
  13. Craig Foster: 0 points
  14. Shane Carter: 0 points

(Craig and Shane forgot to pick their games, they didn’t incorrectly pick every game, just to clarify.)

Congratulations to site expert Tom Moore for coming out of the gates as the opening week leader of the pick ’em pool with 12 correct picks. (No, we did not put our boss in first place as a peace-offering). Tom got every pick past the 1 p.m. games correct, only missing on New England, Houston and Cincinnati.

Clayton and Johnathan wish they could have some of their picks back, as they finished with six games picked correctly. They also happened to be the only two people who picked the Browns over the Steelers this week. Coincidence?

This serves as a call for action for Shane and Craig! Get those picks in! (please)

Let’s go over some of the takeaways I took from the picks made in Week 1:

No Kansas City love?

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Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer calls a play in the huddle in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers, September 10, 2017, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. John Kuntz, Kuntz)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns receiver Kenny Britt may have dropped himself out of the Browns’ starting lineup.

Signed to a four-year, $32.5 million deal in the offseason to replace Terrelle Pryor, Britt dropped a clutch 18-yard pass from DeShone Kizer in the fourth quarter when he was wide open over the middle.

The drop came at a crucial point in the game, with the Browns trailing 21-10 and Derrick Kindred just having picked off Ben Roethliberger to breathe new life into the Browns.

Britt turned to run upfield before he secured the ball and let it slip through his hands.

The Browns punted two plays later.

“Obviously, Kenny dropped the ball in the middle of the field and I know that’s what we all are talking about,” coach Hue Jackson said. “I’ve seen players do that before, and we all have. I’ve had some of the great ones in this league drop balls, but we can’t do that to a young quarterback because he needs guys to make as many plays for him as they can in this situation.

“I think Kenny gets that. He knows that is inexcusable. He has to make that play for the quarterback.”

Jackson was asked why Britt is still starting.

“Let’s see where we go this week,” he said. “Let’s see what we’re doing this week. Let’s find out. You’re saying he’s starting this week. We don’t know that. So let’s see where we are this week and go from there.”

He reiterated that Britt will have to step it up to maintain his status, meaning this is a big week of practice for him.

“You have to play better,” said Jackson. “It’s just that simple.”

The drop comes on the heels of Britt dropping a third down pass from Kizer in the red zone in the dress rehearsal game in Tampa.

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CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 10: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after rushing for a touchdown in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns may be 0-1 on the season, but they showed enough in the season opener to move up in the power rankings.

The Cleveland Browns may have lost another season opener on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there were some positives to take away from the game.

The most refreshing was that the Browns allowed just 35 rushing yards and 2.1 yards per carry on defense, which puts the team at the top of the list among NFL defensesin rushing yards allowed and second in yards per carry.

It may be only one week, but it is a major jump from a team that has consistently found itself being ground down by opposing running backs on a weekly basis.

Several of the first- and second-year players showed promise, and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer put in arguably the best debut performance by a quarterback drafted by the team since 1999.

That was all enough to give the Browns a slight bump on the weekly power rankings from across the NFL media world.


No. 30: The Browns lost their 13th straight season opener, but on the plus side, they lost by only three points to a tough Steelers team. Possible overreaction: If DeShone Kizer cuts down on the sacks (seven), the Browns could be a competitive team. (Pittsburgh No. 1, Baltimore No. 14, Cincinnati No. 25)

Pete Prisco at CBS Sports:

No. 28: There were a lot of good things that showed up in the loss to the Steelers. They will be feisty all season long. (Pittsburgh No. 3, Baltimore No. 16, Cincinnati No. 24)

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Kenny Britt’s starting job could be in jeopardy.(Tony Dejak, Associated Press)

BEREA, Ohio — The Browns released their second unofficial depth chart of the regular season on Tuesday. It looks mostly like the depth chart from a week ago with a few cosmetic changes in backup roles, mostly due to injury or players returning from injury.

This depth chart reflects the move to make Kevin Hogan the backup quarterback, though head coach Hue Jackson indicated on Friday that the backup role could still change.

The real position to watch is wide receiver. Jackson didn’t commit to Kenny Britt as a starter. He’s listed as a starter here, but that’s to be expected. We’ll see if that changes by Sunday.

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Brock Osweiler was released by the Browns but will still be paid $16 million. Joe Robbins/Getty

From the Oakland Athletics to the New York Mets, Paul DePodesta has made a career out of taking woebegone franchises and turning them into contenders.

In 2016, after two decades as an MLB executive, DePodesta left for the NFL to face his biggest reclamation project yet: the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns haven’t had a winning season since 2007, finishing in last place in the NFC North in all but one of the past nine years. It’s rare for a team to be so consistently bad in a league as volatile as the NFL, but Cleveland has been mismanaged over the years. The franchise has wasted a number of first round draft picks on high-profile but distracting busts, including Brady Quinn, Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel.

Now, it appears DePodesta is set on making up for lost player development. Thanks to a series of trades, the Browns will have a whopping 13 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, including five in the first two rounds. In a couple of seasons, the Browns could look like a football version of the NBA’s 76ers: unproven, but loaded with young talent.

DePodesta’s dealings involving quarterback Brock Osweiler epitomize Cleveland’s new strategy. In March, the Browns acquired Osweiler, his $16 million contract and two draft picks from the Houston Texans in exchange for a lone fourth rounder. On Saturday, less than six months later – and less than two weeks before the start of the regular season – the team released its overpriced signal caller and ate his salary; essentially, the Browns paid $16 million for Houston’s 2018 second rounder.

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