By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on August 24, 2014
The Browns' Week 3 loss in the preseason dropped Cleveland to 0-3. While the team had players who stood out for positive reasons, some stood out negatively. The Browns have one more week to get their individual players on the same page and playing cohesively on both offense and defense. With that, here are five players who stood out in Cleveland's Week 3 loss against the St. Louis Rams.
Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Taylor Gabriel has looked good so far in the preseason for Cleveland. In the Browns' game against the Rams, Gabriel caught two passes for 23 yards on offense, but his top contribution came as kick returner. Gabriel returned two kicks for 89 yards and set up the Browns in great position. Return specialist Travis Benjamin is thought to take on both return roles, but Gabriel is making a strong roster push.
Last week against Washington, Justin Gilbert got his first taste of NFL action and performed relatively well. This week was a different story for Gilbert as he was responsible for surrendering two touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder at the hands of Chris Givens. Gilbert stood out for negative reasons, but it's still early for the Browns' first-round draft choice and he should be solidly in the mix as the team's third cornerback.
In his first game as the named backup quarterback, Johnny Manziel played the way we've expected him to perform. Manziel completed 10 passes for 85 yards, but his best play came on a seven-yard touchdown run and leading the offense to its second touchdown-scoring drive under his direction. Cleveland will benefit from Manziel's ability to change the pace of the game from an offensive standpoint, whether it's with the read option or wildcat.
It took three games, but Brian Hoyer's first touchdown pass of the preseason was to the newly acquired slot receiver Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins had a great game as the Browns' leading receiver, hauling in five passes for 36 yards including his touchdown reception. This is the type of production Cleveland will be expecting out of Hawkins, especially after they signed him away from Cincinnati with a lucrative contract in the offseason.
Rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey played well once again for the Browns against the Rams, totaling seven tackles, one tackle for loss and an interception. Kirksey continues to apply pressure on incumbent starter Craig Robertson at inside linebacker. If Kirksey continues to play at this pace, he will be in constant rotation and/or possibly win the starting role alongside veteran Karlos Dansby.
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