BEREA— Travis Benjamin hadn’t caught a single pass— not in practice nor in a game— from Austin Davis this season.
When he finally received the opportunity, he literally made it count.
Of course, that catch came in the closing minutes of Cleveland’s Monday-Night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, as Davis tossed a pass down the middle to Benjamin for the game-tying touchdown.
Thought it was just a single catch from Davis, Benjamin seemed to like the way the quarterback spun the pigskin.
“He has a nice ball. Nice spin. Nice touch on the ball,” Benjamin said. “You just have to catch it.”
Browns coach Mike Pettine hasn’t caught a pass from Davis either this season, but in watching him prepare for his first start with the Browns, agreed with Benjamin that he can spin it.
“It was a good week,” Pettine said of Davis. “(Davis) spun the ball well.”
What’ll be more important than the spirals Davis is able to throw is the accuracy of the passes he makes and the sound nature of his on-field.
Pettine felt the same way about Davis’ decision making as he did about the passes he threw amidst this week.
“I thought he made good decisions,” Pettine said. “I think he’s excited— I’m not speaking for him, but excited about the opportunity.”
The Browns have seen a nice-looking ball and solid decisions from Davis, but is there anything else they were able to glean about the quarterback in the limited minutes he played against Baltimore and in practice this week?
“Competitiveness,” Benjamin said, when asked what he’s seen from Davis. “Now that he has his opportunity, his competitive drive is off the charts. Anytime you have a quarterback in there that is willing to compete, we are willing to go in there to help you.”
Joel Bitonio might not have gotten to fight for Davis last week, as he missed the Ravens game with an ankle injury, but has worked with the quarterback this week.
In the huddle and on the sidelines, Bitonio likes what he’s seen.
“He’s been practicing a lot. I think he’s been throwing it well and he has a big arm,” Bitonio said. “He seemed excited to get out there. I think he’s ready.”
If there’s anything on which the Browns all agree it’s that Davis is ready for Sunday’s game.
Though he hasn’t proven much on the field just yet, it’s what he’s done off the field that’s made believers out of the Browns.
“He sits next to me in the offensive meetings. I always see him taking notes like crazy,” Bitonio said. “I think he’s ready to go in that aspect.”
While Bitonio was enthralled with his off-field work, Benjamin has been in the huddle with Davis during crunch time.
It was that experience that allowed Benjamin to believe that Davis can get the job done on Sunday.
“His first rep when he got in at quarterback, it was insane for him,” Benjamin said. “He was geeked. He was ready to go. He came in the huddle demanding and knew what we had to do.”
While Bitonio and Benjamin illustrated that Davis will be ready for all aspects of Sunday’s game, Pettine imagined a scenario in which Davis struggled for the Browns on Sunday.
He couldn’t come up with a reason for that happening, but he eliminated one option for certain.
“His preparation hasn’t changed because that’s how he is anyway,” Pettine said. “It won't be for lack of preparation."
The Browns announced on Friday that all four players in the concussion protocol will be out for Sunday's game. Those players include CB Joe Haden, CB Justin Gilbert, WR Taylor Gabriel and WR Andrew Hawins.
Other injured players that are questionable for Sunday include OLB Nate Orchard, DL Randy Starks and OL Joe Bitonio, who said he feels he should be ready to play.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.