Here are some things you need to know before the Browns host the Giants on Sunday afternoon.
The game will also mark the return — or at least the opportunity — of a full stadium as the Browns announced on Friday that they are essentially lifting all restrictions on fan attendance for games this season.
Sunday’s game comes after the Browns and Giants practiced together for two days in Berea, so there might be a level of intensity that is not always there in a preseason game.
Most of the starters will sit again this week for the Browns, but there are still some reasons to tune in, so here is how to watch or listen to the game, plus a few things to keep an eye on.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland
TV: News 5 in the Cleveland market, NFL Network for the rest of the country
Announcers: Tom McCarthy, Joe Thomas, Nathan Zegura (sideline reporter)
Radio: 92.3 The Fan (WKRK), ESPN 850 WKNR and WNCX (98.5)
Announcers: Jim Donovan, Doug Dieken, Ken Carman (sideline reporter)
Stream: Browns app, clevelandbrowns.com, NFL Game Pass
Weather: 82 degrees and mostly sunny (weather.com)
Last meeting: The Browns defeated the Giants, 20-6, in Week 16 of last season. Cleveland leads the all-time regular season series, 27-21-2
A Few Things to Watch For
JOK the Sequel – Rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was everything the Browns were hoping for in last week’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars as he finished with eight tackles and a sack.
It was inevitable that Owusu-Koramoah would be on the field once the regular season starts, but injuries to Mack Wilson, who hurt his shoulder against the Jaguars, Sione Takitaki, who left practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury, and Jacob Phillips, who will likely miss the entire season after tearing a biceps tendon, means that the Browns need JOK to continue to get up to speed and consistently play at the level he showed against Jacksonville.
Owusu-Koramoah might be one of the few frontline players who see some action against the Giants, so a repeat of his performance from last week would help settle some nerves on the defensive side of the ball.
The manufactured battle for QB2 – There were some Browns fans who got overly excited after seeing third-string quarterback Kyle Lauletta go 19-for-27 with 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a bunch of Jacksonville players who will be bagging groceries in a few weeks.
That in turn let to some talk about how the Browns are not going to win this season if Baker Mayfield is hurt and the team has to turn to Case Keenum, so why not trade Keenum and name Lauletta the backup quarterback?
While it is true that losing Mayfield longterm will derail Cleveland’s legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, if Mayfield were to go down for a week or two, Keenum can keep the team afloat in a way that Lauletta is not yet ready to do.
Lauletta will probably look decent enough again on Sunday against a group of third- and fourth-stringers on a bad team, but the Browns are not in a position to do anything silly at the quarterback position.
Does anyone want a spot on the defensive line? – After one week of the preseason, no one has stepped forward to grab a backup spot on the defensive line.
Against the Jaguars, Curtis Weaver posted the best PFF grade (67.4) while Romeo McKnight was at the bottom of the group (52.6). Defensive tackle was a similar situation, with Sheldon Day (66.3) grading out at the top and Andrew Billings (37.4) coming in at the bottom — although he was only on the field for 11 plays.
While there is more to the evaluation process than just preseason games, that level of play is only going to lead to defensive coordinator Joe Woods being forced to play the starters far too much in the regular season.
Time is growing short, so hopefully a few players show on Sunday that they are capable of providing the Browns with some much-needed depth on the defensive line.
Hurt feelings – The Browns had their way with the Giants during practice on Thursday. It was so bad that New York head coach dug into his bag of high school coaching tricks and had the Giants doing calisthenics on the field after the completion of practice.
The Giants came out on Friday with a bit more piss and vinegar and things got chippy, with Cleveland defensive back Troy Hill trading punches with New York wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) August 20, 2021
It will be interesting to see if the Giants hurt feelings carry over into Sunday’s game. New York is going nowhere this season so they have nothing to lose, while the Browns primary goal on Sunday is to make it through another day without anyone getting injured. Hopefully cooler heads prevail and the Giants accept their place in the current NFL landscape and don’t cause any trouble.
Those are just a few things to keep an eye on tonight; now it is time to have our say. Outside of no one getting injured, what are you looking for from the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Giants?