Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were all smiles on Wednesday after they reached a 1-0 record for the first time as teammates. (TheLandOnDemand)
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had fun on Sunday and on Wednesday, too, in tandem in front of media
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …
Advancing the theory that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt make each other better, the two running backs shared the podium inside the locker room on Wednesday. They were having fun.
“You guys say we’re better together,” Hunt explained of their joint appearance.
It’s not often you see Chubb enjoying himself behind a phalanx of video cameras and microphones. But this was different. Chubb was never 1-0 in four years with the Browns, but now he is. Hunt was 5-0 in each of his two seasons in Kansas City before he returned to his hometown to play for the Browns.
In Game 1, the two close friends fueled the offense while replacement quarterback Jacoby Brissett shook off the jitters in his first start. Chubb had 141 rushing yards on 22 carries. Hunt had 80 rushing and receiving and two touchdowns. They were on the field together for about 10 plays, enough to whet the appetite for much more.
One thing is for sure: The Chubb and Hunt package is more than a run formation. They both released into pass patterns on two of their snaps together.
“Right,” Hunt said. “That’s just a different opportunity to get the ball in space, stuff like that. So when you’re out there, you have to be able to have your playmakers touch the ball even when it is a pass. I know if you check it down and throw it to Nick, he can turn it into 20 yards, 15 yards, and I feel I can do the same.”
Kevin Stefanski has said the Browns will expand on the Chubb-Hunt package, but he fell short of a full-blown commitment to it.
“I really think it is a week-to-week proposition,” the coach said. “I think there are times when it makes sense and there are other times when you do want to keep those guys fresh. If they are both playing at a high level -- whether they are on the field together or not -- it takes a back seat to them playing at a high level and doing things that give the defense difficulty.”
The Cade York Chronicles
Cade York’s 58-yard game-winning field goal, capping a 6-for-6 kicking day in his first NFL game, earned the rookie kicker AFC special teams player of the week honors. The last Browns kicker to do that was Phil Dawson in 2005.
York was typically unfazed and unimpressed by the award.
“Awards-wise, the week’s over, so it doesn’t really matter anymore,” he said. “Got 20 weeks left, hopefully, so it’s get back to it this week.
“This sport’s about everything you’ve done lately, and lately I had a good game. But also next week is a new game and Cleveland can hate me after the next game, so it doesn’t really mean anything. You have to stay pretty even keel because if you’re a roller coaster there’s ups but also downs.”
A few yards away at his locker, long snapper Charley Hughlett marveled at York’s demeanor. York is the ninth kicker in Hughlett’s seven seasons as long snapper, following Chris Naggar, Chase McLaughlin, Cody Parkey, Austin Seibert, Greg Joseph, Zane Gonzalez, Patrick Murray and Travis Coons.
I asked Hughlett what’s special about York.
“I would say, outside of his talent – his leg talent is definitely elite; he’s got a lot of power swinging his leg through – but I would say his composure,” Hughlett said. “He’s very mature. Lot of times you have guys come in and they sort of seem like this is a lot for them, a lot of pressure. I’ve never gotten that from him whatsoever. Very mature, very poised out there.”
Brissett settling down
A week ago, as the first work week kicked off for Jacoby Brissett, he seemed nervous about the task he was undertaking. The emotional win in Carolina now behind him, Brissett was looser and more relaxed talking about correcting the mistakes made in Game 1.
“It’s just getting more repetitions at it,” Brissett of his early misfires for Amari Cooper, Kareem Hunt and Donovan Peoples-Jones. “That was probably our first time in game, like live. Can’t miss those, obviously.”
Naturally, the question came up about his lack of playing time in preseason.
Eleven quarterbacks didn’t play a single snap in preseason and their combined record in Week 1 games was 3-8. Brissett did play in the preseason finale, but he was without Chubb, Hunt and Cooper.
Does he wish he could rewrite The Plan that kept him at limited reps in preseason?
“We won. So I don’t think we should rewrite it,” he said.
What about Stefanski? Does he think the 3-8 quarterbacks’ record and Brissett’s slow start was reason to change things in preseason next year?
“No, it does not,” he said. “I think you have to be careful to look at one season of sample size. For us, we take everything into account and take all the things we have done in practice, in meetings, etc. Like we talked about in the preseason, there is not one right way to do it. Some teams have philosophies on other ends of the spectrum. I know some of them probably won and some of them probably lost in Week 1, but there are many more games to go.”
The Browns got away with it when Brissett pump-faked before spiking the ball on the final play before York’s game-winner. It should have been a 10-yard penalty. If properly enforced, York would have been looking at a 68-yard field goal attempt to win the game. Would the Browns have tried it? “From what [special teams coordinator Mike Priefer] said, yes, we would have gone out and attempted it,” York disclosed …
Chubb unabashedly and unapologetically hung a Baker Mayfield Carolina jersey in his locker given to him after the game by his former teammate and friend after the game. “He’s a close friend of mine, ex-teammate, so it’s only right that we got each other’s jersey,” Chubb said …
Linebacker Anthony Walker was upset with the defense’s performance in Carolina. Communication breakdowns resulted in pass plays of 50 and 75 yards to help Baker Mayfield take a 24-23 lead with 1:17 to go. “It’s not good enough,” Walker said. “We talk about being an elite defense and part of that is not giving the offense anything, making them earn everything. We thought we gave them a couple plays they didn’t earn. We kind of gifted them. That’s not OK, so we’ve got a long way to go. We want to suffocate a team, put any energy that they have away. We gave them life.” …
Cooper did not practice. It was not injury-related, the Browns reported. He got the day off …
Stefanski shortened Wednesday’s practice because he is looking ahead to the short turnaround after Sunday’s game to face the Steelers Thursday night in FirstEnergy Stadium.