Another preseason week has come and gone with another Cleveland Browns victory. The Browns took down the New York Football Giants in their second preseason game of the 2021 season 17-13. Once again, no starters played for the Browns, but the second and third-string players once again showed out for Cleveland. Here is what Cleveland fans should take away from the second preseason game for the Orange and Brown:
1. Khadarel Hodge keeps on Rockin’
Khadarel Hodge just keeps on strumming for the Browns as he just knows how to score touchdowns. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, Hodge takes the opportunities that are presented to him. On Sunday, Hodge scored on touchdown after getting 21 yards receiving on two receptions. While his average was 10.5, he still came up big when the offense needed it most. While he does seem to slot in the fifth wide receiver slot on a loaded wide receiver room, Hodge can still be that dude to come up clutch for the Browns. He has been looking solid throughout camp, and preseason for the Browns this offseason, only time will tell how much he will contribute during the season. All in all, Hodge would be a solid Top 3 receiver on another NFL team.
2. John Kelly just kept runnin’
Sunday truly belonged to Browns running back John Kelly. Kelly made a statement Sunday against the Giants as he ran for 58 yards on nine attempts for one touchdown. Oh, he also had 6.4 yards per average with the longest being 18 yards. Furthermore, he even caught one pass for 21 yards with a ton of broken tackles in the process.
The fourth-year player in the league, first with the Browns, made a case for the team to consider keeping him on the squad. His five-yard run for a touchdown was sensational, to say the least after showing off the wheels to get to the outside.
Get that TD young man! pic.twitter.com/NK6olwe19Y— Zachary Martin (@CLEZach) August 22, 2021
Overall, a very solid game for Kelly. Although, while he did make a case, it has to be said that the running back room for the Browns is very stacked. The team currently has Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson, and rookie Demetric Felton as well on the roster. The best-case scenario is that the Browns keep Kelly on the practice squad hopefully if no other team picks him up. He is one player to keep an eye on as camp continues and what happens when the Browns play the Atlanta Falcons for their last preseason game before their week one game in Kansas City.
3. Kyle Lauletta for Browns Backup?
Another game, another case to be made for Kyle Lauletta to become the Browns backup quarterback. Lauletta threw for 152 yards on 14-of-23 attempts for the game. While he didn’t throw for a touchdown, he did average 6.6 yards per throw and had a quarterback rating of 80.3. Although, he did also manage to rush twice for 33 yards with his longest being 32 which gave him an average of 16.5 yards per run.
While Lauletta does make a case to be the Cleveland Browns backup, more than likely it will go to Case Keenum who is going into his second year with the team. Keenum knows the system pretty well since playing for head coach Kevin Stefanski back in Minnesota with the Vikings. Nothing against Keenum, but it seems like Lauletta has taken most of the opportunity over the last two preseason games to be given a solid shot to back up Baker Mayfield going into the 2021 season. More than likely, Lauletta will see his time with the practice squad for the Browns this upcoming season with a possibility to be a backup next season.
4. Richard LeCounte III Being Counted on More
Apparently, “Browns Bitez” can’t go back-to-back weeks without talking about Richard LeCounte III. The Browns 5th-round pick had another spectacular day on the defensive side of the ball for the Orange and Brown. Overall, he managed to accumulate four tackles, one assisted, along with a game-sealing interception to secure a Browns win. The rookie safety just keeps making big plays and becoming a fan favorite over the last two weeks.
Last week against Jacksonville, LeCounte had two tackles, one sack, and an interception. Back-to-back weeks with an interception will get you noticed quickly, and by all accounts, it has. LeCounte is already showing flashes of what made him an All-SEC player back in college. While the safety room does have the likes of John Johnson III, Grant Delpit, Ronnie Harrison, and Sheldrick Redwine; LeCounte could be seeing a good amount of playing time this season. All eyes will be on LeCounte next week for the Browns last preseason game against Atlanta to see if he can keep this pace up. While the defense has gotten an overhaul with a plethora of great players, LeCounte has been a shining addition to the team. Browns fans should keep an eye on him next week and the rest of training camp.
5. Position Battles Getting Hotter for Browns
The Cleveland Browns are finally in a situation that fans have always wanted for them; they have too much talent. What does this mean? This means that the team has to make hard decisions on who to keep the squad going into the 2021 season. While most positions are pretty much settled; the running backs, wide receivers, etc. could be made up for grabs after the locks at those spots.
The wide receiver room after Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Khadarel Hodge could have some drama with the likes of Davion Davis, Anthony Schwartz, and JoJo Natson. Davis has led the team for yards receiving over the last two preseason games with 101 yards combined over those games. Davis did play for Stefanski back in Minnesota in 2019 for what it’s worth. Natson is more so seen as a returner but does have the wheels to make it interesting on sweep plays. Schwartz seems to make people wonder what the Browns will do with him. Will he be a returner? Could he be a 6th or 7th receiver? Nothing is certain for now for the Browns’ third-round pick.
The running back room is pretty set up top with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. There are some cases to be made even after D’Ernest Johnson who keeps plugging away as the Browns’ third-string back. It mainly comes down to Demetric Felton, the Browns’ 6th-round pick, and John Kelly. While the Browns can use Felton as a wide receiver/running back swiss army knife, does that give the team the flexibility to keep Kelly on the squad without exposing him? Right now, no one is envying Browns GM Andrew Berry right now on who to keep on the 53-man roster.
My name is Zach Martin, the Chicago Blackhawks beat writer for Belly Up Sports and Belly Up Hockey. Also, a writer for the Cleveland Browns. Follow me on Twitter for the most up-to-date Blackhawks content and news. I’m a co-host on a hockey podcast, Cannons & Tomahawks, that talks about all things NHL.