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Earl Thomas: Ravens 'kind of got tired' of Browns hype

No NFL team drew more headlines or filled more hours of sports talk in the offseason than the Browns. After experiencing one of the league's biggest turnarounds in 2018, they added the likes of Odell Beckham and Sheldon Richardson and hired new coach Freddie Kitchens, who'd meshed so well with quarterback Baker Mayfield.

With the Steelers retooling and the Ravens rebooting, Cleveland was seen as preseason favorites in the AFC North and a Super Bowl darkhorse. Even John Harbaugh got in the act, proclaiming the Browns the most talented team in the division during the owners meetings in March.

You can imagine how well that went over in Baltimore's locker room.

"The media was talking about OBJ and that tandem and Baker Mayfield, the next savior," safety Earl Thomas said, per ESPN. "Then, to add on to that, Coach talked about it a couple of times in meetings. So guys kind of got tired about it."

A lot of that talk has been muted with the Browns starting the season 1-2, including two defeats at home. The 2-1 Ravens have an opportunity to further silence their rival when they host the Browns on Sunday. They too made a plethora of moves before the 2019 campaign, from hiring OC Greg Roman to bringing in Thomas and running back Mark Ingram.

Baltimore, though, seems content to have its worth determined on the field.

"You have to play football at the end of the day," Ingram said. "You can have as many players as you want to on paper, but if guys don't mesh and don't communicate well and play well together, it really doesn't mean anything. We're going to have to play them twice. That's why you line up and play football -- to settle the score."

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams added: "That's just what it is -- it's hype. You can't really buy into it. You don't really know what a team is until you see them on Sunday. When somebody gets hit in the mouth, what's the plan then?"

During a conference call this week, Harbaugh took to defending his offseason praise of the Browns by noting that they applied only to the offseason.

"I think at the time, they did have the most talent in the division," Harbaugh said. "It was meant to be a compliment to the Browns organization and everything and the job they have done. ... Now we are playing the season, and all of that stuff gets determined during the season."

The first meeting between the Ravens and Browns will determine first place and a leg up on the tiebreaker. It'll definitely be something worth talking about.

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