American Football

Browns WR Elijah Moore back, which is bad news for opposing defenses

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Washington Commanders v Cleveland Browns
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Moore returned to practice on Sunday after missing time with a rib injury and is ready to resume his versatile role on offense.

There has been some Sturm und Drang in recent days about the current state of the Cleveland Browns offense.

Of course, any concern about the offense not being regular-season ready overlooks that quarterback Deshaun Watson has only played a few offensive series in the first three preseason games, running back Nick Chubb and wide receivers Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones have not played at all, and wide receiver Elijah Moore has been sidelined with a rib injury.

Related: Browns tackle leaves Sunday’s practice with trainer

Much of that will change next Saturday as head coach Kevin Stefanski has decided that the starters will play about “20 to 25 plays” against the Kansas City Chiefs in the final preseason game for both teams.

That should calm some fragile nerves, as long as the offense looks good, a prospect that received a boost on Sunday with the announcement that Moore will return to practice after missing last week’s practices and preseason games against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Moore, who has lined up at wide receiver and in the backfield this summer, confirmed on Sunday that he feels “good” and is looking forward to delving back into whatever role that Stefanski cooks up for him (quote via a team-provided transcript):

“I don’t think that (opposing defenses) would expect me to be (in the backfield) and if they do, I don’t think they expect me to run the ball. I think they probably think I’m going to run a route which I’m going to do that, too. So you’re going to pick your poison on what you think I’m going to do. If you guess wrong, man, we got you.”

Moore’s willingness to embrace multiple roles, combined with his talent, is what led Stefanski to create a new role for the third-year receiver (quote via a team-provided transcript):

“I just think there’s not really a limit to what he can do. I think he’s a very good outside receiver, a very good inside receiver. You can put him in the backfield, put him in the wildcat. I think there’s really just no shortage of what you can do. And I say that just because of the skill set and because of the intelligence. But just if you think about the person and think about the player and what he’s able to handle. We just felt like it’d be something that he can do.”

Cornerback Greg Newsome II, who knows a thing or two about covering talented receivers, has seen what Moore can do up close in practice and on Sunday said that Moore will be a problem for opposing defenses (quote via a team-provided transcript):

“Man, it’s crazy. I mean, I see him in the backfield sometimes, but sometimes I’m supposed to be on him in the field. Sometimes I have to guard him in the backfield. Sometimes he’ll take a handoff, (sometimes he’ll) motion out. Like, it’s just so much that he can do. And it’s definitely hard for us, but, I mean, I don’t have to play against him in a game, so it’s going to be hard for the other team. But yeah, I just love that he’s able to do so much. He can run the ball I’ve seen in preseason. Obviously, he’s one of the most elite route runners, so it definitely puts pressure on the defense.”

The Browns offense has not been anywhere near its potential during the preseason, but that is not unexpected given how little the starters have played. That will start to change against the Chiefs, and with Moore back at practice they should get a good look at what Newsome and the rest of Cleveland’s defense sees every day in practice against the Browns newest versatile offensive weapon.

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