Amari Cooper on Browns’ ‘more explosive’ passing game; An important player returns, another neither

BEREA, Ohio – The Cleveland Browns are 5-3 despite having one of the worst passing games in the NFL. Much of the reason can be attributed to overall poor play at the quarterback position.


Deshaun Watson missed three entire games and most of a fourth, and the play during his absence hasn’t been very good — at best.

Through the first eight games, there were very few of the “fireworks” that Watson and other offensive players talked about before the season started.

The Browns currently rank 29th in the NFL with just 184.1 yards passing per game. The Ravens have one of the most effective passing defenses in the NFL, ranking second in allowing just 170.7 yards per game.

Much of the Browns’ success will depend on Watson.

Watson rose to 19th in the NFL in passer rating at 86.7 with six touchdowns and three interceptions after starting even lower.

This week’s opponent, Lamar Jackson, however, ranks sixth in the NFL with a rating of 100.8. He has nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

During training camp Kevin Stefanski and the players talked about an explosive offense, but it wasn’t very explosive. Stefanski was asked if he had any consistent big plays other than Amari Cooper.

“Yeah, I mean, our passing game, what we want to lean on,” Stefanski said. “Like you said, Amari, Dave (Njoku), Elijah (Moore), I think these things come in droves. (Cooper) is doing a great job.

He does what he’s asked to do. I think he’s a threat with the ball in his hands. So these are all things that will continue to grow as the seasons change.

Cooper leads the team with 35 receptions for 617 yards (17.6 average) and two touchdowns.

He was clearly the Browns’ threat at the wide receiver position, as he is the only wide receiver averaging double figures.

Although the Browns only had two wide receiver touchdowns, Cooper has both.

Despite injuries to Watson and other key offensive players, Cooper believes the passing game can continue to be explosive moving forward.

“Yeah, 100 percent,” Cooper said before Thursday’s practice. “I mean, we’re not even halfway through our games yet, so it’s November and December football, a lot of things can and will change. I think we’re moving slowly.

We’re working on the game of passes. A lot of guys are healthy, so I think 100 percent.

Cooper has drawn a lot of attention from opposing defenses, and rightfully so, but he has found a way to stay productive. He was asked what the key was.

“Just really paying attention to what these guys are trying to do,” he said. “Pay attention to what these guys are trying to do and go out there and execute.”

In addition to Cooper, the Browns need to find ways to distribute the ball and find a threat to complement Cooper.

With Donovan Peoples-Jones out and Marquise Goodwin in the concussion protocol, Elijah Moore would be the logical replacement for Cooper.

Cooper believes more receivers will be involved as Watson returns to the offense. “Yes, 100 percent,” he replied.

“I mean, obviously, it’s a big problem when it comes to offense. Just spread the ball around, get everyone in contact, confuse the defense.

I don’t give them any indication of which way the ball will go consistently. ” Simple. » Overall, this is definitely a great attack strategy.

Tight end David Njoku is the team’s second-leading receiver with 32 catches for 319 yards (10.0 average) and two touchdowns.

Moore is third with 29 receptions for 270 yards (9.3 average) with no touchdowns.

The only other wide receivers with receptions are David Bell (4 receptions, 33 yards), Goodwin (3 receptions, 10 yards) and rookie Cedric Tillman (2 receptions, 8 yards).

Recently added punt returner James Proche could also get some snaps at wide receiver. Austin Watkins is on the practice squad.

Watson says he follows the flow of the game. “I think the most important thing for me is how the game plays,” Watson said.

“For a more complete and detailed answer, I think you’ll have to ask Kevin. “For me, it’s just a matter of finding an open man based on the play call in my reads and what the defense.”

The offense has had to evolve with Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, All-Pro tackle Jack Conklin and now left tackle Jedrick Wills dealing with serious injuries.

Stefanski said the Browns offense has to do what it has to do every week for every opponent.

“I think we’re still thinking about everything it’s going to take this week,” Stefanski said. “Obviously, like you said,

Deshaun hasn’t been around for a while now. To get him back, obviously you start changing things up, but it’s really on a weekly basis. What you feel like doing gives you the best matchup that week .”

Extra points

Newsome back at practice: CB Greg Newsome returned to practice Thursday after missing last week’s game with the Cardinals and Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury. Newsome has 20 tackles with three pass breakups on the season.

On Wednesday, Newsome said he hoped to practice and play this week, but that was up to the medical staff. The Browns have depth at the position and he is confident they will be ready to go.

Rookie Dawand Jones has been playing right tackle since Jack Conklin’s absence this season, but Jones could try his hand at left tackle in place of Wills, who was placed on injured reserve this week due to of a sprained MCL.

The attacking coordinator Alex Van Pelt said it was a challenge that would play where.

“Yes, only really, Kev (Stefanski) said best,” said Van Pelt on Thursday. “We are currently working on everything, all the different options and we obviously leave it until the season to see who is there.

But James has always worked hard. He played both sides, does a good job when he goes up. But we have other options and we’ll see. We’ll let it continue like this until game time.

With CB Cameron Mitchell on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, Newsome’s return would be a big boost for the defense.

“Like I said before, we have six, seven guys that can start on any roster in the league, and I said that with Cam (before he played),” Newsome said. “I said it from the beginning.

He’s a baseball player. He showed it last week, and if I can’t go, of course Cam can’t go. We have more people doing the exact same thing.

Jones, Bell, Goodwin did not practice: WR David Bell (knee), offensive tackle Dawand Jones (knee, shoulder) and WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion) did not practice Thursday after missing Wednesday.

TE David Njoku (knee) returned to practice, as did RB Pierre Strong (hamstring), OL Joel Bitonio and the other rested players.

If Jones is unable to play, OT Geron Christian or OT Leroy Watson could likely take the starting position opposite OT James Hudson, who is expected to replace OT Jedrick Wills.

Rookie Dawand Jones has played right tackle since Jack Conklin was lost for the season, but Jones could be tried out at left tackle in place of Wills, who was placed on injured reserve this week with a sprained ACL .

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said the challenge is who will play where.

“Yeah, really, Kev (Stefanski) said it best,” Van Pelt said Thursday.

“We’re looking at everything now, all the different options and obviously we’ll continue until game time to see who’s there. But James has always worked hard.

He has played on both sides and does well when he comes on the pitch. But we have other options and we’ll see. We’ll let it continue like this until game time.
ATI Roundup 9/11: 10th week edition

This version of ATI Roundup includes the most recent responses first and then all recent responses.



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