Browns notebook: Freddie fed up with penalties: ‘I’m really, really upset,’ Kitchens sayshttps://www.ohio.com/article/20190817/SPORTS/190818551
INDIANAPOLIS — Although the Browns won their second preseason game Saturday, coach Freddie Kitchens wasn’t pleased afterward.
“I think we made too many mistakes,” he said after the Browns defeated the Indianapolis Colts 21-18 at Lucas Oil Stadium. “You’re not going to win football games with the amount of mistakes that we made, the penalties that we made, the missed tackles that we had and the missed opportunities because of the penalties. You’re not going to win very many games like that.
“Their first scoring drive, we had three missed tackles on that drive alone. We just have to do better. We have to do a better job of making the plays that are just there to be made. I think our expectation for ourselves is a lot higher than what we demonstrated today.”
The Browns racked up 13 penalties for 119 yards. What helped them is the Colts had 16 penalties for 164 yards. Yet Kitchens didn’t take any consolation in being the least penalized team.
“It was not disappointing from a competitive standpoint,” Kitchens said. “I thought [the players] competed, and I thought they were tough and physical. I think we could’ve played smarter. We want a smart, tough football team. That’s what I said from the beginning. We were not smart tonight.”
Kitchens acknowledged several of the penalties were committed by rookies, but he wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“I’m really, really upset about the penalties because that’s not who we are,” Kitchens said. “That’s not who we want to be, and that’s not our expectation.”
Kitchens delivered that message to the team after the game.
“The only thing that we really need to focus on is just the penalties right now,” veteran defensive end Olivier Vernon said. “We won, but still, that’s not going to cut it during the regular season.”
Back in action
Running back Kareem Hunt made his preseason debut with the Browns and played two series. He finished with two carries for 6 yards.
“It definitely felt good getting back out there with the team and feeling that feeling of being on the field again,” Hunt said.
Hunt had been sidelined for most of training camp with a groin injury. He returned to team drills last week and participated Wednesday and Thursday in joint practices with the Colts at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Indiana.
Because Hunt will serve an eight-game suspension when the regular season begins, the preseason is the time for the Browns to give him work. The only problem is Hunt isn’t fully healthy. He said the groin injury is still bothering him “a little bit.”
“I’m trying to get that all the way back [to] 100 [percent],” he said. “So just taking it day by day with my body and making sure I’m ready to come back full throttle when it comes time for me to play.”
Offensive lineman Austin Corbett had a few high snaps while playing center and was flagged for holding. In the second quarter, quarterback Garrett Gilbert had to throw the ball away on third-and-3 at the Browns 49 after gathering a poor snap from Corbett.
“On third-and-3, we need to get the snap, all right?” Kitchens said. “So I don’t know what to say.”
A 2018 second-round draft pick, Corbett hasn’t received any first-team snaps at right guard in a long time. Eric Kush started there Saturday. Rookie sixth-round selection Drew Forbes has recently been added to the mix.
“As a competitor, I’m never going to count myself out,” Corbett said. “That’s anything in life — never count myself out. Just starting as a walk-on [at the University of Nevada], I’ve already been doubted enough, so no reason to change that mentality.”
Corbett insisted he never thought the right guard job was his after the Browns traded Kevin Zeitler to the New York Giants for Vernon in March.
“I knew there was an opening for a spot and they were going to bring guys in to compete for it, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. ”... I never once thought it was going to be handed to me, and I never want anything handed to me in the first place.”
Asked if Corbett is still part of the competition at right guard, Kitchens said, “Everybody on our team is in the mix for right guard, but we’re going to evaluate. ... So I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Incumbent Greg Joseph missed a 53-yard field goal wide right to end the first half, and rookie fifth-round pick Austin Seibert missed a 52-yard field goal wide left with 2:52 left in the fourth quarter.
“I want them through the uprights,” Kitchens said. “I don’t care how they get there.
“I think they had the distance. The first miss was hit good. It just didn’t go through. Both those guys can kick the ball that far. I just want it through the uprights.”
Of his miss, Joseph said, ”“I felt like I hit it really well, but it just didn’t go through.”
Joseph made his lone extra-point kick. Seibert made both of his extra-point kicks.
When receiver Jaelen Strong caught a 4-yard pass from Gilbert in the end zone with 1:52 left in the first quarter, he scored his first touchdown since he suffered a torn ACL while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Christmas Eve in 2017.
“It’s my first touchdown since I came off injury,” Strong said. “Even though it’s preseason, it just felt good to get back in the zone, and all praise to God.”
Strong has performed well recently in his bid to make the team. His chances increased when the NFL suspended fellow receiver Antonio Callaway for four regular-season games because he violated the league’s substance-abuse policy.
However, Strong doesn’t look at Callaway’s misstep as an opportunity for him.
“When he took that fall, we all took that fall with him,” Strong said. “Nobody looks at it as a good situation at all because it’s definitely not a great situation for him or the team. So us coming together as a brotherhood and picking him up in the receiving room is what matters most.
“We’re all going to get through it together with him. He’s our teammate, he’s our brother and that’s what it’s about. It’s not a win for anybody. It’s unfortunate, and we’re going to work with him.”
• Receiver Ishmael Hyman suffered a concussion after catching a 24-yard pass early in the third quarter and absorbing a hit. He left the game and didn’t return.
• Receiver Derrick Willies didn’t play offense until the second half. “We were in a rotation,” Kitchens said. “He just ended up not being in there until then.” Willies bounced back from a dropped pass with a 4-yard touchdown catch from undrafted rookie quarterback David Blough with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
• Punters don’t create highlights every day, yet undrafted rookie Jamie “The Scottish Hammer” Gillan did against the Colts. Gillan, who’s competing against incumbent Britton Colquitt, booted a 74-yard punt with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
• Defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence played after suffering a knee injury during Wednesday’s joint practice. “It ain’t nothing,” Lawrence said of the injury. “It’s good.
• Running back D’Ernest Johnson had 10 carries for 53 yards (5.3 average) and three catches for 26 yards, including a 6-yard TD. He said he views the Browns recently trading running back Duke Johnson as an opportunity for him. “He got traded, God opened up a door and I’m just trying to take full advantage of it,” he said.
• The Browns are off Sunday. They’re scheduled to practice from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday and 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday in Berea before breaking camp. Wednesday’s practice is the last one open to the general public.