Jets TE C.J. Uzomah and DE Carl Lawson, former teammates on the Bengals, each have tasted much success against the Browns. But the Jets could be minus one of them when the two clubs square up Sunday in Cleveland.
Uzoma has a career-high 26 receptions and 3 TDs against Cleveland, but will is a game-time decision on Sunday after injuring his hamstring in Thursday's practice. P Braden Mann (back) will also be a game-time decision while S Jordan Whitehead (ankle) has returned to practice in a limited capacity.
"He looked good," HC Robert Saleh said of Whitehead. "He's going to try to give it a go. It's really encouraging. He's fighting through it, so it's pretty cool."
Lawson has 4.5 sacks, 13 QB hits and 20 pressures against the Browns, the most against any opponent since he was drafted in 2017. He had 2 QB hits and 4 pressures in his debut in green and white against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Now, he's preparing for Browns QB Jacoby Brissett, who completed 52.9% of his passes last Sunday for 147 yards and 1 TD.
"He's not Lamar Jackson in terms of when he wants to run, but he's still a mobile quarterback and you have to respect that," Lawson said. "It's just a different offense. Lamar Jackson is a totally different entity than anything else in the league. … As opposed to having two extremely good backs in the backfield, so it's more of a traditional NFL team."
An Auburn product, Lawson told reporters he is unfazed by the Browns' traditionally raucous home crowd because of his experience in the SEC. But the Jets are a young team entering the Dawg Pound, looking for their first September win in 14 games.
"When you get to the day before, make it no different," DL Solomon Thomas said. "Make it your same routine. Whatever you do, whether it's watching a movie, stretching, whatever it is, do the same thing. Don't make it too complicated. Don't make it too different."
The Jets will face a similar defense to their own Sunday. Browns DC Joe Woods was the defensive backs and passing game coordinator with the 49ers when Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur were in San Francisco. Cleveland hired Woods in 2020 and he coordinates a defense that LaFleur said has at least a top-5 front with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, and two-time Pro Bowl CB Denzel Ward.
"Against this defense, you better earn it because they're not going to give you anything," LaFleur said. "They had two miscues that led to about 160 yards for Carolina and outside of that I think Carolina had 100 yards in 52 plays. It was an absolute struggle all day expect for two major busts that I know their players and their defensive staff don't believe they should have."
See the top practice images leading up to the first road game of the 2022 season against the Cleveland Browns.
Greg Zeurlein, who won the kicking competition in training camp, became the seventh opening-day kicker for the Jets in as many seasons. While making a 45-yard FG in the second quarter, Zeurlein missed a game-tying attempt earlier in the game. He also missed an extra point in the fourth quarter. ST coordinator Brant Boyer, however, isn't concerned.
"I've seen such a big body of work from him through the years and through camp," he said. "I mean we've got to make those kicks, yes, and the team need those points, but at the end of the day, I am hardly not even close to pushing the panic button. I have full trust in him and he had a couple of kicks he wants back just like any other position."