CLEVELAND — Chemistry is best formed in practice.

And perhaps the best indicator of how far the Browns receivers and quarterback Baker Mayfield have to go in that regard will be next week’s two sessions against the Indianapolis Colts.

Browns ticket-holders may have been grousing afterward, but coach Freddie Kitchens made the safe and logical decision Thursday night when he played his offensive starters only one series in the preseason opener against the Washington Redskins at FirstEnergy Stadium.

It might not be the only time Kitchens opts to go that route.

The Browns did not need to trot out Odell Beckham Jr. to catch one or two balls from Mayfield after injuries limited Beckham to 16 games over the past two seasons with the New York Giants. Beckham didn’t see the field after pregame warmups.

They did not need for Jarvis Landry to go over the middle. Landry did not start, either, with Mayfield’s pass attempts going to receivers Derrick Willies, Jaelen Strong and Rashard Higgins and running backs Nick Chubb and Dontrell Hilliard.

They did not need to pound Chubb to try to recreate his “hasta la vista, baby” 92-yard touchdown run from last November’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons, even if Cavs announcer Rafael Hernandez-Brito was again in the house doing play-by-play for Spanish radio La Mega. After Duke Johnson Jr. was traded to the Houston Texans earlier in the day, Chubb touched the ball twice, on a 14-yard reception and 12-yard run before heading to the bench.

The same was true on defense. Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett played one series with the starters and was virtually unblockable, as he has been all camp. After halting the Redskins’ drive at their own 35, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks sent out starters Larry Ogunjobi, Terrance Mitchell and Ray-Ray Armstrong for the second series. Mitchell and first-round pick Greedy Williams did see significant minutes.

“I want us rolling when we go down to Indianapolis,” Kitchens said Tuesday during his first “Freddie Kitchens Show” on the Browns’ radio network. “A lot of times you can get more out of those two practices than a game.”

The Browns leave Tuesday for Westfield, Indiana, where they will work against the Colts before their Aug. 17 preseason game. Kitchens is obviously curious to see how the Browns stack up against the Colts, who went 10-6 and earned an AFC wild card berth last season.

Kitchens may be able to ramp up his mantra of “We haven’t done anything yet” if the Browns don’t fare well in Westfield. But those sessions might not do much for Mayfield learning the tendencies of Beckham and improving Mayfield’s cohesion with Landry.

Mayfield said a few days ago that this season is all about chemistry, and although he didn’t mention them, that puts the focus on Beckham and Landry.

Beckham’s post-practice work on the JUGS machine is already legendary, but Kitchens is not wearing him out in team drills. Mayfield said this week that he and Beckham are getting on the same page.

Landry had two 100-yard games in the Browns’ 5-3 finish to a 7-8-1 season, but he seemed slow to connect with Mayfield, hooking up on 32 of 55 targets during that span.

A few snaps in a preseason game is not going to speed that along with either receiver.

The special connection quarterback Derek Anderson developed with Braylon Edwards before Edwards’ franchise record-setting 16-touchdown season in 2007 was developed on the fields of Berea, not in the stadium.

The same was true of Mayfield and Higgins a year ago. The two spent the entire 2018 training camp together on the second unit; their bond will not be broken until one of the two leaves the Browns. It wasn’t a coincidence that Higgins caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield on Thursday.

Fans who are not enamored with the Browns practicing against another team must remember that coach Bill Belichick loved the idea during his tenure in Cleveland from 1991-95.

Under Belichick, the Browns hosted the Giants in 1991, then went to their camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., the next season. In 1993, the Browns practiced against the Chicago Bears at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. In 1994, the Browns hosted the Atlanta Falcons, with Browns legend Clay Matthews on the other side.

Before a 1995 preseason game at Arizona, Belichick worked his team against the Cardinals in two days of 100-degree heat.

There must have been a method to what seemed like a future Hall of Famer’s madness decades ago in Arizona. The true measure of a football team in August comes in practice, not in games for which fans would rather not pay exorbitant prices.

Those salivating to see Mayfield hook up with Beckham and Landry might have to wait until Sept. 8. By then, the practice fields on Lou Groza Boulevard may yield something extraordinary.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.