INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback Baker Mayfield and several other Browns starters didn't play in Saturday's 21-18 win over the Indianapolis Colts in preseason game No. 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Coach Freddie Kitchens explained he was satisfied with what the Browns accomplished during joint practices with the Colts on Wednesday and Thursday at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.
So on the heels of two intense, competitive practices, Kitchens decided to give some of his key players the night off rather than risk injury in an exhibition game.
"I felt like if we got accomplished what we needed to get accomplished on Wednesday and Thursday that they would sit, and that's what happened," Kitchens said Saturday in his postgame news conference. "I would have liked to have sit some other guys defensively, but numbers-wise we just couldn't do it.
"But I'll tell you that's how they've bought into this. They sucked it up for the team. They knew they had to get some snaps in to prolong the inevitable of coming out of the game and being done and then you've got to go with what you've got. So (I) appreciate those guys. They know I appreciate that 'cause they kind of took one for the team."
With Mayfield sitting out, No. 3 quarterback Garrett Gilbert started for the Browns. Backup quarterback Drew Stanton is healthy, but the Browns wanted to learn what Gilbert would do with an extended audition in his quest to make the team.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. rested, as expected, because of a minor hip injury. Receiver Jarvis Landry and running back Nick Chubb were given the night off, too.
The starting offensive line, with Eric Kush at right guard, played one series. Running back Kareem Hunt made his preseason debut with the Browns and started after missing last week's exhibition opener, a 30-10 win over Washington, because of a groin injury. Receivers Rashard Higgins, Jaelen Strong and D.J. Montgomery started. Demetrius Harris started at tight end with David Njoku idle because of a knee injury.
Nearly the entire starting defense played.
The most notable exceptions were 2018 Pro Bowl selections Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. Anthony Zettel started at defensive end in place of Garrett. Rookie second-round draft pick Greedy Williams started at cornerback in place of Ward, who's been limited in practice for a while with a minor, undisclosed injury.