Browns running back Nick Chubb gets around Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter...

Browns running back Nick Chubb gets around Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter during a joint NFL training camp practice Friday in Berea, Ohio.  Credit: AP/Ron Schwane

BEREA, Ohio – Lorenzo Carter came off the field Friday with his finger in his mouth trying to dislodge something stuck in his teeth. Shreds of Baker Mayfield’s jersey, perhaps?

"No," he said, chuckling. "Not yet."

The golden rule of the two days of joint practices between the Giants and the Browns was that the quarterbacks remain untouched. That meant none of the Giants were supposed to go anywhere near Mayfield or the other Browns passers. Nevermind the big crunching hits, the last thing either of the teams would want to see is a starting quarterback have to miss time because he hit his hand on an opponent’s helmet or twisted an ankle stepping on someone else’s foot.

Occasionally one of the coaches would blow a play dead when the quarterback was starting to sense duress, but there were no real hits to keep track of throughout the workouts. All of the sacks were hypotheticals.

For the Giants, though, even those pretend sacks were a good sign. If there was one major question facing the team that came close to being answered during their stay in Cleveland, it was their edge rushers’ ability to create pressure. The fact that it happened against one of the NFL’s premier offensive lines made it that much more evident the Giants will be vastly improved in that area.

"We’re just trying to affect the quarterback and play complementary football," Carter said. "Help the back end out just like they help us out. They’re doing a great job back there trying to hold it down and that’s what we’re doing up front, trying to keep building that cohesiveness because we didn’t have a fully loaded front seven last year.

"But we’re back."

Carter is the prime example of that. He missed most of last year with a torn Achilles and some of this training camp with another non-related leg injury, but over two days here he was active and disruptive. Oshane Ximines was injured most of the year, too. He has been back on the field. And Azeez Ojulari, the second-round pick who played opposite Carter with the starting unit, was very active.

"We’re just trying to apply pressure every time we step on the field," Ojulari said. "Everybody win their matchup and play on the same page and go as hard as we can."

At one point Friday Ojulari broke through the line of scrimmage and chased Mayfield almost 20 yards into the backfield. He might have run him all the way to Columbus had the play not been whistled dead.

"I just kept going," Ojulari said. "He’s an elusive quarterback so I was just trying to go as hard as I could."

Leonard Williams, the defensive lineman who led the team in sacks last season, said he thought the defensive front did "a great job" pressuring the quarterbacks over the two days.

"The edge guys are playing really well," he said. "We’re doing a good job of communicating, playing a lot of different games, which is really good if we’re switching it up. It’s hard for them to pick up what we’re gonna run. And we have a bunch of different looks."

Now they just have to prove they can do it in real games when quarterbacks aren’t protected by no-contact rules.

"I think there were enough reps where you saw some guys flash," Joe Judge said. "There were some other reps that we had to highlight to our players and say, ‘Look, you have to have a counter move here’ or ‘You have to anticipate that this tackle is a good player and he’s going to go ahead and adjust to you.’ Along with that, it’s not always just you versus the tackle. It’s are they going to leave the tight end to chip? Is the back going to give extra help? These are the things we have to learn to process and recognize at full speed."

And, with any luck, at full finish.

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