The second week of the preseason concludes with the New York Giants visiting the Cleveland Browns. Teams will be looking to see which players improve on their Week 1 performances and which players really grab hold of important roles. The PFF analysis team has all of the important battles and players to watch in this game:
Coverage by: Ryan Smith
Position Battle: Jay Bromley/Dalvin Tomlinson, DT
- Bromley took the field with the first team against the Steelers, playing an extra drive or so (19 snaps) and registered two stops and a QB hurry (78.9 overall grade).
- Tomlinson was part of my game preview last week and lived up to the billing. His 82.7 grade was second-highest on the team behind Landon Collins (84.5). On 27 snaps, he had two run stops and was consistently stout at the point of attack.
Players to Watch:
- Evan Engram, TE – Part of our weekly rookie review, Engram played 19 of his 23 offensive snaps at either tight end or fullback, meaning just four came in the slot – where he played 52 percent of his snaps in 2016 at Ole Miss. Engram only was asked to run block on seven snaps and did fine.
- Calvin Munson, LB – Munson was the eighth-highest graded linebacker in the entire FBS last season (89.5), though in an interesting scheme that set him up for success. Munson played 29 defensive snaps and accumulated two stops. He was targeted twice in coverage and allowed just one catch for two yards.
- Ereck Flowers, OT – It may be hard to believe, but Flowers played well against Pittsburgh. He was in at left tackle for 18 snaps and on 12 pass blocking attempts did not allow a single pressure.
Coverage by: David Neumann
Position Battle: Jamie Meder/Trevon Coley, DI
- With run stuffer Danny Shelton expected to miss 3-6 weeks with a knee injury, the Browns will be looking for someone to step up on the interior. Meder stepped in for Shelton during the Browns’ preseason opener, earning a solid 73.0 overall grade in 22 snaps. However, if run defense is the priority in Shelton’s absence, they may want to look elsewhere. Meder has graded much better as a pass rusher than run defender during his three NFL seasons, a trend that bore out against the Saints last week.
- A few other names remain in the mix to see an increased workload should Shelton miss any significant amount of time, but Cleveland may very well find the run stuffer they need in Trevon Coley. The 2016 undrafted free agent produced the team’s highest overall grade last week (86.5), standing out in the run game especially. Coley recorded two stops on seven run snaps, good for an 86.4 run-defense grade.
Players to Watch:
- David Njoku, TE — After missing Cleveland’s preseason opener due to back soreness, the former Hurricane is expected to make his NFL debut this week against the Giants. Njoku averaged 2.34 yards per route run during his final college season, the fourth-best figure among 75 qualifying FBS tight ends.
- Shon Coleman, RT — While the Browns are poised to have one of the league’s best offensive lines this season, right tackle has been the one unsettled spot this offseason. Coleman has all but secured the starting job over Cam Erving at this point, but remains an unknown commodity after playing in only 62 snaps last season. Last week’s effort was a mixed bag for the second-year player, as he was solid in pass protection (one pressure allowed in 16 pass-block snaps) but struggled in the run game, producing a 42.7 run-block grade.
- DeShone Kizer, QB — Hue Jackson isn’t ready to hand the reins over to the rookie just yet, but it was an impressive debut for Kizer nonetheless. Kizer’s overall grade of 83.0 was the third-best of the week, highlighted by his impressive performance under pressure. Despite spending a large portion of his night under duress (he was pressured on 54.5 percent of dropbacks), Kizer showed good pocket movement and accuracy to produce 126 yards and a touchdown on seven aimed passes under pressure, good for a 137.5 passer rating.