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NFL Cleveland Browns

5 Takeaways From Cleveland Browns’ Preseason Week 3 Loss

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Cleveland Browns 2014 Preseason: 5 Takeaways From Week 3 Loss

Brian Hoyer
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Week 3 of the preseason was yet another weak overall performance by the Cleveland Browns. Although there were some bright spots, the Browns still have a long way to go before they become consistent competitors in their division and the league. Cleveland appeared to have made progress from Week 1 to Week 2, but they took another step back following a 33-14 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Here are five takeaways from the Browns' loss.

5. Andrew Hawkins Showed Why He Is Money Well-Spent

Andrew Hawkins
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5. Andrew Hawkins Showed Why He Is Money Well-Spent

Andrew Hawkins
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When the Browns signed Andrew Hawkins this offseason, the hopes were that he would be able to dominate in the slot while opposing defenses focused on Pro Bowlers Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Now with Gordon's eventual suspension, Hawkins will play an enhanced role in the offense. Against the Rams, Hawkins hauled in five passes for 36 yards and touchdown thrown by Brian Hoyer, showing why Cleveland signed him to a lucrative contract.

4. Justin Gilbert May Not Be Ready to Take Starting Role

Justin Gilbert
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4. Justin Gilbert May Not Be Ready to Take Starting Role

Justin Gilbert
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Justin Gilbert's first NFL action took place last week against Washington, and the Browns' first-rounder fared well playing alongside Joe Haden while replacing Buster Skrine. Against the Rams, both Haden and Skrine were absent from the game due to injury, and the Rams focused on throwing Gilbert's way. Gilbert was beat twice on touchdown-scoring plays, including a 75-yarder at the hands of Chris Givens. Skrine should hold the starting role.

3. Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey Continue to Battle at ILB

Craig Robertson
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3. Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey Continue to Battle at ILB

Craig Robertson
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In last week's game against the Redskins, Browns' linebackers Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey continued their positional battle for the starting inside linebacker role by flying to the ball and being in on several tackles and turnovers. In Week 3's game, Kirksey accounted for seven tackles, one for loss and an interception. Robertson totaled four tackles in the game. The Browns should rotate throughout the season, giving them both time.

2. Johnny Manziel Will Thrive with Lack of Competition

Johnny Manziel
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2. Johnny Manziel Will Thrive with Lack of Competition

Johnny Manziel
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Now that Johnny Manziel has been named the No. 2 quarterback behind Brian Hoyer, he was able to go out against St. Louis and play without the pressure of jockeying for the starting role when even he admitted that he wasn't ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the regular season. Manziel provided a spark to the offense, throwing for 85 yards on 10 completions and rushing for a touchdown. With the pressure off, Manziel can be himself.

1. The Offense Needs to Find a Rhythm Quickly

Brian Hoyer
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1. The Offense Needs to Find a Rhythm Quickly

Brian Hoyer
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Heading into the preseason, there were concerns about the Browns' ability to adjust to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense. So far, the concerns are warranted as starting QB Brian Hoyer has only led one touchdown-scoring drive through three preseason games. The running game has looked good, but Cleveland's timing between Hoyer and his receivers has yet to come along. Cleveland has one more chance to work on the offense in the preseason.