Browns football officially returns on Friday.
After months of workouts, constant media attention, and a big switch under center, fans will get their first chance to see the new team.
Unfortunately, fans will have to wait a little longer before the Browns are back in Cleveland.
But hey, maybe the sunny Florida weather will do the team some good.
Here are three things to keep an eye out for on Friday:
1. Quarterback Crisis?
Earlier this week, the Browns officially announced that Deshaun Watson will start Friday’s game in Jacksonville.
While Watson’s status for the season is still up in the air, he’ll at least see some time on Friday.
Several weeks back, NFL Disciplinary Officer Sue Robinson suspended Watson for six games for violating the League’s Personal Conduct Policy.
Dating back to his time as a Texan, Watson has been accused of serious sexual misconduct, in a pattern of disturbing behavior laid out by Jennie Vrentas of The New York Times.
Now that the league has appealed the suspension, whether Watson appears this season is still very much in the air.
The #Browns will reportedly look into trading for #49ers Jimmy Garoppolo if Deshaun Watson is suspended more than 6 games, per @MaryKayCabot pic.twitter.com/SpdojtQIGJ
— 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙎𝙁𝙉𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 (@TheSFNiners) August 11, 2022
But eyes shouldn’t just be on Watson.
Backup Jacoby Brissett and third-stringers Josh Rosen and Josh Dobbs will likely also get some looks.
For Rosen and Dobbs, it’s a chance to stake an early claim to the season.
For Brissett, it’s essentially an audition.
An audition that’s now all the more important given that the Browns are considering bringing in Jimmy Garropolo if Watson’s suspension is extended beyond the six games.
2. O-Line, Meet Travon Walker
Last week, the Jaguars played in the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame game against the Raiders.
The Jags struggled almost everywhere except one: Travon Walker.
Walker was the first pick in this summer’s draft.
The defensive lineman was a much-heralded prospect coming out of Georgia and he wasted little time making his presence felt.
Welcome to the #NFL, Travon Walker!
The No. 1 pick collects his first sack of the preseason. #DUUUVAL
📺: NBC and @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/Wmdusin9fG
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) August 5, 2022
And in just a few plays of service, he caused mayhem galore for the Raiders’ outgunned offensive line.
Cleveland’s offensive line is mighty talented.
And in all likelihood, most of the starters will see limited action.
Though the Browns have promised that many of the starters will play.
If the Jaguars send out Walker early and the Browns do the same with their offensive line, this will be an exciting and intriguing battle to watch.
3. Hunting For Minutes
While the Browns expect to play most of their starters, one name to keep an eye on is running back Kareem Hunt.
Hunt made waves last week after he made his desire for a new contract known to the team.
Put simply, Hunt sent an ultimatum Cleveland’s way: pay me or trade me.
Despite that, the Browns have little interest in trading Hunt, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com.
Hunt enters this season in the last year of a two-year, $12 million deal.
He’s been a serviceable backup for Browns star Nick Chubb, but might be angling for some added time elsewhere.
Will the Browns play Hunt in order to gauge his value?
Or will they bench him to keep him out of harm’s way should a trade package come along?
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