Cleveland — The long-awaited wait is almost over for the Cleveland Browns and their fans. The team will kick off the 2019 season Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in one of the most highly-anticipated seasons since the Browns returned in 1999.
Following a 7-8-1 2018 season, the Browns shored up their roster by trading for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive lineman Olivier Vernon. Beckham did not play during the preseason as he was nursing a hip injury, he admitted earlier this week that he’s not at 100 percent but will make his Browns debut against the Titans.
Defensively, the team bulked up their defensive line by signing Sheldon Richardson to team up with Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon and Larry Ogunjobi. In one preseason game, the “Four Tops” as they have become known, recorded three sacks of Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. A strong defensive line group, chasing down a quarterback, can help clog holes in the running game and force the QB to throw sooner than he would like which helps the defensive backs in the secondary.
The one group that will certainly have a new look to it from 2018 will be the special teams. The Browns have fifth-round pick Austin Seibert handling the kicking while Jamie Gillan, known as the ‘Scottish Hammer’, will handle the holding and the punting duties.
All of this will be on display on Sunday against Tennessee.
“I feel like these guys are excited to get ready to demonstrate the hard work they went through for the past six weeks. We are all excited. We know the fans are excited. Hopefully, the stadium is ready to roll early, and we will be there waiting,” said rookie head coach, Freddie Kitchens.
The Browns do not have a great opening day history—they haven’t won the first game of a season since 2004 when they beat the Baltimore Ravens 20-3. Will 2004 history finally repeat itself? Only time will tell.