Kevin Stefanski: The Browns will count on rookie CB Greg Newsome to perform if he’s the guy, and other Browns takeaways

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Greg Newsome II has all but won the starting cornerback job now that Greedy Williams is day-to-day with a strained groin, and coach Kevin Stefanski is ready to go into the battle with the rookie if it shakes out that way.

“Greg is doing a nice job competing on the practice field and in these games,’’ Stefanski said. “Understand that he’s a rookie, but he’s a kid – like I mentioned the other day – who he’s not making the same mistake twice. He’s very diligent about his work. Ultimately if he’s that guy, he’s somebody who we’re going to count on.

“All of those guys when these games start rolling around, you’re counting on them. That is nothing new and that is nothing that these guy are not used to, especially playing the cornerback position.”

Newsome has developed quickly in camp, and has cross-trained at nickel corner behind Troy Hill. He worked inside some against the Giants, and handle it well. It gives the Browns the option of playing him in the slot if Hill can’t go, or if the Browns want to get Denzel Ward, Williams and Newsome on the field at the same time.

The competition between Newsome and Williams has been close, but Williams has been knocking the rust off after missing all of last season with the nerve damage in his shoulder. He’s gotten faster and stronger each day, but Newsome was a step ahead of him before the groin injury, and now Williams might not be able to play in the final preseason game Sunday in Atlanta to finish the battle.

But even if Newsome starts, as expected, Williams will play a lot, and the Browns were happy with his progress before this minor setback. The Browns have erred on the side of caution with soft tissue injuries and it will be no different in this case.

“Day-to-day means he has to rehab, see how he does tomorrow and see how the injury responds to treatment and that type of thing,’’ Stefanski said. “Like I mentioned before, we have some time before you have to set the depth chart, before you have to set the 53 and all of those type of things. Plenty of work to do for the guys this week at practice and then with this game coming up.”

Losing Cody Parkey a blow

The Browns were disappointed to lose Parkey to the quad injury suffered Sunday. He was placed on injured reserve, and can’t be designated for return because that’s only for players who go on IR after Sept. 1st when the initial 53-man rosters are set.

Parkey made good progress in camp after one rough day early on, and was locked in a heated battle with Chase McLaughlin. Parkey made all 11 kicks in postseason last year, three field goals and eight extra points, including six in Pittsburgh.

“I’m disappointed for Cody, obviously,’’ Stefanski said. “He’s a veteran and came up big for us in some big moments last season so I do not want that to get lost in this either. It is disappointing for him, and I know his teammates feel badly about that.”

McLaughlin, who made a 49-yarder against the Giants, has had a good camp, but Stefanski stopped short of naming him the starter.

“[McLaughlin’s] battling,’’ Stefanski said. “He’s doing a nice job. You guys have seen it out at practice. He did a nice job with that field goal into the Dawg Pound yesterday. He is doing a nice job and expect him to keep battling.”

The Browns should rest their starters in Atlanta too

The Browns haven’t come this far in preseason with the goal of keeping their starters healthy to risk anything in a meaningless preseason game in Atlanta on Sunday. Stefanski will likely err on the side of caution again and hold out Baker Mayfield and the majority of starters again. He declined to say what he’ll do, but it seems fairly obvious.

“We do have a plan, and we’ve talked about it,’’ he said. “I want to continue to see where we are this week before ultimately signing off on that. I’ll talk to the players and then I will certainly let you guys know.”

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney will ramp up

Stefanski is confident his injury-riddled defense will have time to jell for the Chiefs.

“We’ve worked really hard here in the building, on the practice field and in the meeting rooms to make sure that our guys are on the same page,’’ he said. “I value walkthroughs. I think the guys have been locked in in the walkthroughs. Ultimately, would love to get the entire group out there – offense, defense and special teams – and have the full complement of guys, but injuries are a part of it, and we just deal with it accordingly.’’

He noted it was good to see Myles Garrett (hamstring) and Jadeveon Clowney (undisclosed) in pads on Friday, even if they didn’t participate in team drills.

“We’ll ramp them up,’’ Stefanski said. “Guys will get healthy as we go here and get more guys in here. I just think it is a natural evolution of it as guys come off of the rehab list.”

Stefanski’s biggest problem is a good one to have

Stefanski’s biggest problem this preseason is trying to figure out how to use all the weapons he has on offense. In addition to the ones he had all last season, he has Odell Beckham Jr. coming back, and now also has rookies Anthony Schwartz and Demetric Felton. What’s more, Donovan Peoples-Jones has made a strong case for more playing time, and he’ll need to find targets for him. It’s truly an embarrassment of riches, and Stefanski will have to be creative to spread the ball around.

“Those are the type of things we talk about throughout the offseason – how we want to utilize guys,’’ he said. “That is part of the offseason and part of training camp is finding out what guys do and trying them in certain roles and see how they respond to that. We are taking in all of that as we go. When we get to Kansas City week, we will have those discussions. As you put the plays up and you start moving the chess pieces around the board, we will get to that point. In the meantime, it is really just continuing to evaluate these players both as we put this team together and then also just seeing what their skillsets are really at every position.”

Kevin Stefanski: The Browns will count on rookie CB Greg Newsome to perform if he’s the guy, and other Browns takeaways


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