CHARLOTTE – Week 1 has arrived, and eyes will be fixed on Bank of America Stadium for several reasons this Sunday.
The Cleveland Browns will visit Carolina, opening the season against their former quarterback, Baker Mayfield, just two months removed from a trade that sent the Browns' first overall pick from the 2018 draft to the Panthers.
And while there's plenty of intrigue from the Mayfield angle, there will also be plenty of other matchups to watch across the field as the Panthers and Browns look to start the season 1-0.
Here are three top things to know about the visitors from Cleveland:
JACOBY BRISSETT GETS THE START
The Browns will face their former starting quarterback without the signal caller they'd hoped to bring out in Week 1.
Deshaun Watson's 11-game suspension means Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski will put his trust in Jacoby Brissett against the Panthers.
The 29-year-old has assumed backup roles throughout much of his seven-year career, and he spent much of the Browns' preseason building up chemistry within the offense.
Brissett's efforts have come with mixed results, most recently completing 13-of-23 pass attempts for 109 yards and an interception in Cleveland's 21-20 preseason loss to Chicago on Aug. 27. He didn't lead Cleveland to a touchdown against the Bears, but he set up two field goal attempts of more than 55 yards for rookie kicker Cade York, who converted from 57 yards out and missed from 58.
STURDY RUN GAME
It would be easy to fixate on what will go on at the Browns' quarterback position – and it's a fair point – but Cleveland's elite trio of running backs will warrant just as much (if not more) attention when the Browns come to town.
Nick Chubb finished 2021 as the league's second-most productive runner, accumulating 1,259 rush yards on 228 attempts. He hasn't played a live snap in the preseason, but he isn't the only capable running back on Cleveland's roster.
Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson add more options in the backfield for the Browns, and the Panthers' defense will have its work cut out for it on the ground.
THE MYLES GARRETT FACTOR
Panthers rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu will be welcomed to the NFL with one of his most challenging assignments when he faces Cleveland star defensive end Myles Garrett in Week 1.
Garrett is already one of the league's most highly regarded defensive threats, and he's coming into his sixth season with lofty goals. He's earned preseason attention as one of the players to watch for Defensive Player of the Year.
Garrett set the Browns' single-season sack record at 16 last year and was named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season (third of his career). The first overall pick out of the 2017 draft is plenty for an experienced veteran to handle, and he'll likely be going full force toward his former quarterback when facing the Panthers.
Carolina is 4-2 against Cleveland all-time.