The Cleveland Browns took on the Philadelphia Eagles in their third preseason game Thursday night, ending in an 18-18 tie.
Cade York’s kicking woes
Cleveland has a kicking problem. Cade York simply is not cutting it. While making an attempt earlier in the game, the second-year kicker missed two potential game-winners inside two minutes to play. This is exactly the time in the game when a kicker is depended on to come through. Unfortunately, he missed consecutive attempts from 47 and 41 yards when called upon late in the game.
It would not be as bad if York, or someone controlling York’s Instagram account, did not share the made field goal in the 2nd quarter during halftime. The clip originated on the Browns’ Instagram account, finding its way to York’s. It has since been removed from York’s stories.
The Browns have to do something when it comes to the kicking position. Coming into camp with York as the only kicker on the roster is team-building malpractice. York was far from solid as a rookie, and it appears he is nothing more than average on a good day. The Browns should have at least brought in another option to push him to be better or possibly take his job if he crumbles, like he did, twice in the 4th quarter last night.
A receiver trending up and another trending down
This is a tale of two receivers. One with potential and has been a nice surprise during the preseason, and the other is a whiffed draft selection from 2021. Starting on a good note, Austin Watkins led all receivers with seven receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown Thursday. This brings his pre-season total to 15 receptions, 245 yards, and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Anthony Schwartz has just five receptions for 40 yards with two carries for 2 yards. That’s it. While it is incredibly foolish to judge receivers on pre-season stats alone, taking into context how they came to Cleveland tells a much bigger story.
Watkins has bounced around multiple leagues and teams since going undrafted in 2021. But when it comes to players actually showing something worthwhile in the run-up to the regular season, Watkins is doing exactly that. It is still an uphill battle to make the roster but he is certainly making it tough for the Browns to exclude him from their plans.
Schwartz continues to struggle since being drafted by the Browns. Because of this, the Browns traded for another speedster in Elijah Moore, and signed a veteran in Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin’s current status may keep Schwartz on the roster for the short term while he recovers. But there is no way to continue justifying a roster spot beyond that. This is a player that the team should have cut after last year. Admit the mistake and move on. The fact he was in on the final drive of the 4th quarter shows his roster spot is far from guaranteed.
An undrafted free-agent defender
With Watkins garnering all the attention on the offensive side of the ball, it is Ronnie Hickman getting his fair share on defense. The former Ohio State Buckeye has three interceptions this preseason and just keeps finding a way to make plays. Hickman was forced to exit Thursday’s game after his third interception to be evaluated for a possible concussion.
There is something to be said about a defender who is always finding his way to the football, and this applies to Hickman. Those involved in making roster decisions would be wise to retain the services of Hickman. Even if only a developmental/depth player, Cleveland would be better to take a chance on Hickman rather than let him land elsewhere.