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Defense shines in Browns win over Eagles

By MARK HAZELWOOD Reflector Sports Editor [email protected] • Aug 24, 2018 at 2:22 AM

CLEVELAND — Some of the Browns' worst fears and greatest hopes played out in a 5-0 victory over the Eagles in the Thursday night's third preseason game.

Tyrod Taylor left briefly with a left hand injury but returned, Baker Mayfield was checked for a concussion at the request of the independent neurologist but was deemed to be fine, and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward left with a back injury and did not return.

The extent of Ward's injury was not known after the game, but coach Hue Jackson said he'll know more tomorrow after Ward undergoes an MRI or others exams. He also said Taylor will undergo further exams on his left hand, but is confident he'll be fine for the opener Sept. 9 against the Steelers.

Mayfield went to the medical tent in the fourth quarter after tripping over a defender and banging his head on Shon Coleman's leg before going to the ground on his fourth-quarterback interception with 11:49 left in the game. He finished 8-of-12 for 76 yards, with no touchdowns and the one pick for a 49.3 rating. He was sacked twice.

Mayfield got some of those first-team reps that coach Hue Jackson had denied so far this preseason, but only because Taylor left the game for two series in the first quarter after falling on his left hand on a fourth-down play at the Philadelphia 1. It sent a scare through FirstEnergy Stadium, just about 4 1/2 minutes after Ward had left the field.

Fortunately for the Browns, Taylor returned to action in the second quarter. Mayfield went back to the bench, where the Browns want him at the beginning of the season.

While Taylor was in the locker room, Mayfield went 2-of-5 for 19 yards against the Eagles' defensive starters. He was running the offense that lost a yard after an Emmanuel Ogbah fumble recovery set the Browns up at the Philadelphia 35. Mayfield fumbled on a sack, but the ball was recovered by right tackle Chris Hubbard.

Zane Gonzalez connected on a field goal from 54 yards out for the only offensive points of the game.

The Browns' defense took the ball away from the Eagles four times in the first half, had a fourth-down stop and Myles Garrett got an end zone sack of Nick Foles for a safety.

Taylor's injury

Taylor fell on the hand after throwing an incomplete pass to Jarvis Landry on fourth and goal from the 1, his fourth straight incompletion from the 1.

Taylor walked into the locker room with the medical staff, but came back out at the end of the first quarter and started taking some snaps on the sidelines. He trotted back on the field with 14:06 left in the half after Briean Boddy-Calhoun's interception.

Taylor was unable to generate any points despite the defense getting the ball back for him three times on takeaways. He finished his five drives 11-of-16 for 65 yards for a 76.3 rating.

Taylor was without two of his top receivers in Josh Gordon, who could return to practice on Saturday, and Antonio Callaway, who sat out with a groin injury.

He remained in the locker room for treatment in the second half, and left the Stadium immediately after the game. He did not speak to the media.

Jackson said he'll undergo further tests, but expects him to be fine for the opener against the Steelers Sept. 9.

Ward's back injury

Ward, the Browns' second first-round pick, suffered the back injury with 10:31 left in the first quarter while making the stop on a 7-yard pass from Nick Foles to tight end Zach Ertz.

Ward was prone on the field for a few minutes before getting up and walking gingerly to the sidelines with the medical staff. After some time in the medical tent, Ward walked slowly into the locker room, escorted by doctors.

With the opener just over two weeks away, Ward's status is uncertain. He was replaced by Mike Jordan.

Dominant defense

Last week, the Browns' starters did not allow a first down in four series vs. Buffalo. Thursday night, they topped that.

It started on the Eagles' first drive when Jabrill Peppers stopped tight end Zach Ertz short on a fourth-down reception. Myles Garrett then got the safety by touching Foles down after the QB stumbled dropping back to pass to put the Browns up 2-0 with 5:19 left in the first quarter.

The Browns also got the Boddy-Calhoun pick and two fumble recoveries, one that was forced by rookie Genard Avery and recovered by Ogbah, and one that was forced by Terrance Mitchell and recovered by Larry Ogunjobi. Jamie Collins completed the turnover-fest with another pick.

The Eagles were without five offensive starters, including quarterback Carson Wentz, running back Jay Ajayi and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Algholor.

Randall a last-minute scratch

Randall, the Browns' starting free safety, was scratched with a knee injury after it tightened up on him on pre-game warmups. Boddy-Calhoun replaced him and had the second quarter interception.

Up next

The Browns close out the preseason next Thursday night in Detroit.

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