Saints lose pre-season opener as A&M’s Garrett shines for Browns
CLEVELAND (AP) — After a brief, brutal and breathtaking NFL exhibition debut, Myles Garrett was asked what he didn’t do well.
“Nothing,” he said.
Finally, the beleaguered Browns may have something.
Garrett showed flashes of dominance in his first preseason game, and Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw a late touchdown pass and the Browns rallied to beat New Orleans 20-14 on Thursday night while Saints stars Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson watched.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Garrett had a tackle for loss and blazed off the edge to pressure Saints backup QB Garrett Grayson in the first half.
“I played my game,” Garrett said. “I got to where I wanted to go, hustled hard and made the plays I’m supposed to make.”
The Browns haven’t solved their endless QB dilemma, but Garrett appears to be a long-term answer at defensive end.
“I thought he held his own,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I thought when he had an opportunity to rush, he rushed well. Thought there was a little pressure here and there, he made one play in the backfield.”
Garrett vowed to “send a message” in his first preseason game as a pro, and he did just that in limited time. On one play, Garrett timed the snap perfectly and pushed past third-string tackle Khalif Barnes to hit Grayson.
“I could have got a sack, but it is what it is,” Garrett said.
Kizer was the most impressive of Cleveland’s three quarterbacks and completed a 45-yard TD pass to Jordan Payton with 1:52 left as the Browns rallied for their first preseason win in two seasons under Jackson.
Kizer finished 11 of 18 for 184 yards and had two long throws — the 45-yarder to Payton and 52-yarder to Richard Mullaney.
With his performance, Kizer may have closed the gap on Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. The trio have been competing throughout training camp, but Jackson isn’t ready to make one of them his starter.
“It’s way too early,” he said.
The Saints lost their 10th straight preseason game.
As expected, Brees didn’t play and neither did Peterson, New Orleans’ new addition who signed with the club as a free agent in April after 10 seasons in Minnesota.
Coach Sean Payton was disappointed with his team’s overall effort.
“I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of things to correct in that film,” said Payton, who not address any injuries.
“There are a handful of things penalty-wise, kind of sloppy. There are some plays at the end that were foolish, some substitutions that were troubling.”
And while New Orleans can count on the 38-year-old Brees to lead them, the Browns’ QB search is still stalled.
Osweiler started and struggled during his four series, Cody Kessler didn’t do much to help his cause and Kizer shook off a slow start, played the entire second half and showed off his strong arm.
Kizer said the game-winning play reminded him of his first win at Notre Dame.
“You let it go and you know you just put it right in the right spot, so that was a really cool experience there,” he said.
Saints: Brees warmed up but spent the evening on the sideline wearing a baseball cap. He’s expected to play at some point in the preseason as is Peterson, who stayed close to his QB during the first half. Rookie CB Marshon Lattimore, a first-round pick from Ohio State, injured his knee during practice this week and didn’t play.
Browns: Pro Bowler Joe Thomas got the night off. He was replaced at left tackle by Cam Erving, who is battling Shon Coleman for the starting job on the right side. Erving, who failed miserably at center, was called for a false start and hold on consecutive plays to end Cleveland’s first offensive possession.
Saints WR Tommylee Lewis made a diving catch for 32 yards and had 10 for 128 yards. Lewis is battling for a backup job.
Saints: With Mark Ingram also out, RB Alvin Kamara started. The third-round pick from Tennessee ripped off a 22-yard run and had 35 yards on four carries.
Browns: S Jabrill Peppers served as the initial kick returner. He ran back one for 27 yards, returned a punt for 13 and made a fair catch he immediately regretted. RB Matthew Dayes scored the game’s first TD on a 1-yard plunge.
Saints DE Alex Jenkins, an International Pathway Initiative player from England, had a sack in his debut. He’s ineligible to be on the active roster, but will spend the entire season on the practice squad. “I dreamed of this moment for years,” he said.
Saints: QB Ryan Nassib was checked for a head injury in the fourth quarter, but came back for the final drive.
Browns: Starting S Ibraheim Campbell sustained a concussion on the second play from scrimmage.
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