First Impression Fodder

Browns leave plenty to discuss following 27-17 win over Green Bay in 2011 preseason opener.

CLEVELAND — Be wary of first impressions.

On Saturday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the first time the Browns defense was on the field, they had 12 players. You can only use 11. The first time the Browns offense was on the field, Colt McCoy threw a pass to the flats that could not be handled by Owen Marecic. In reality, it was a lateral that was fumbled, but not called as such by the referees.

In both instances, the result was better than the start.

The Browns defense held the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers to a three-and-out on the game's first possession. The Browns offense took their first possession and drove 71 yards in eight plays that culminated in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Josh Cribbs.

Somewhere in between lies the truth about the 2011 Cleveland Browns.

Welcome to preseason.

"We got a long way to go before we're going to be a real good football team," coach Pat Shurmur said at halftime.

Thirty minutes later, Cleveland walked off the field 27-17 winners over Green Bay.

"Playing games is what coaches and players do," said Shurmur after the game. "All through camp, they responded and worked hard. There were some good things that happened in the game."

One good thing is that the Browns' first teamers showed they are not as far behind as some suspected with the lockout and integration of new coaches and schemes. Yet, this was essentially full-speed practice and that fact cannot be forgotten.

Remember, in 2008 the Detroit Lions were 4-0 in the preseason only to finish 0-16 in the regular season? Also, remember last season when Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme was 38-for-48 for 345 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in three games followed by, well, it's better not to relive Delhomme's regular season exploits.

With that caveat established, the following players displayed positive first impressions Saturday night.

Colt McCoy. All eyes were on the second-year quarterback and he delivered. Two of the three possessions led by McCoy ended in a touchdown. He finished 9 of 10 for 135 yards and a touchdown for a quarterback rating of 152.1.

"I thought he was pretty sharp," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "He executed well. he was pretty efficient wit his throws. He worked us down the field twice. That's the mark of a quarterback, getting you in the end zone."

Aaron Rodgers. OK, he's not affiliated with the Cleveland Browns, but he showed why he was Super Bowl XLV MVP. Green Bay's second possession, the Packers went no huddle and he drove the offense 74 yards in eight plays ending with a 21-yard back-shoulder touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. The entire drive took 4 minutes, 3 seconds. His performance was a reminder of what he and the Packers did last February in beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brandon Jackson. Last season, Jackson was a member of the Packers, but this offseason the running back was one of the Browns' quiet free-agent signings. Jackson saw a bulk of carries in the third quarter and he finished with eight carries for 28 yards against his former team.

"I was going out and doing my job, but I'm not going to lie, I know I was trying to give it to them on a couple of stiff arms," said Jackson, laughing.

Jackson showcased his ablity to be a quicker, speedier back. He looks like he'll serve as a complementary piece to the bulldozing-style of Peyton Hillis.

"It's a change up," he said. "Peyton is a bigger, tough down-hill guy. I'm more of a slasher. I just want to fit in."

Greg Little. The Browns are in desperate need of a No. 1 wide receiver and Little served that role in the first half with Mohamed Massaquoi inactive. Little was targeted five times during the first half to lead the Browns, and he finished with two catches for 20 yards.

Josh Cribbs. Cribbs caught two balls for 37 yards. His first catch was a 10-yard reception on third and 8 and his second was the 27-yard touchdown reception. In all, the Browns had six wide receivers catch 12 of the Browns' 21 completions.

"The receiving core, as a whole, looked good," Cribbs said. "It'll opening up the running game for Hillis as well. We're looking good."

Cribbs did not return kickoffs or punts. He's role Saturday night was strictly as a wide out.

"We going to do what we can offensively get him the football," Shurmur said. "Most of the time, you throw it to the wide receiver. I don't want to sound trite, but he did good job getting open. He's strong to the ball, catches ball well and finds way get yards after the catch. I'm happy with his progress."

Jayme Mitchell. The defensive end enigma wrapped in a riddle that was Mitchell in 2010 showcased why general manger Tom Heckert worked so hard to retain him in 2011. With 1:37 remaining in the first quarter, Mitchell beat Packers' backup left tackle, Marshall Newhouse for a quarterback sack.

Titus Brown. With seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, Browns linebacker Brian Smith forced a fumble on Packers quarterback Graham Harrell. Brown picked up the fumble and ran 43 yards for his first career touchdown on any level.

"Now I got to listen to all the noise about him playing offense," said Shurmur, laughing. "That was a great play. When look at things statistically it's an even game except for that game. Those are types of things you need to do. Score on defense score on special teams and we found a way to do that."

Inactives and Injuries: Carlton Mitchell highlighted the pregame news. He sat out the game after undergoing finger surgery on Friday night. In practice, Mitchell had a finger get caught in a jersey. No more details were announced.

"He'll be out a couple of weeks," Shurmur said.

Also inactive were Jabari Fletcher (DL), Chris Gocong (LB), Eric Hagg (DB), Montario Hardesty (RB), Mohamed Massaquoi (WR) and Usama Young (FS).

Cornerback Coye Francies (back) is day-to-day while Hagg will have surgery on Monday on a "minor knee deal" Shurmur said.

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