Antonio Callaway showed more ability in college than his draft positioning would have typically dictated, but he slid late to the Cleveland Browns because of issues outside of the football field. the 2018 rookie emerged as an important piece of a growing offense late last season that saw the team win five of their last eight.
He spent the spring getting time with the starters, as would be expected. So why has he been running behind so many other wide receivers once training camp opened? Apparently, according to his coaches, he showed up demonstrating a lack of proper conditioning.
While Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry are obviously the team’s top threats at wide receiver, veteran Rashard Higgins was also playing with the first team over Callaway, as was Jaelen Strong, a former high draft pick that they were able to acquire in the spring.
The second-year player has previously said that he wanted to follow up his rookie season, in which he caught 43 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns, with even bigger numbers. His goal is to top 1000 receiving yards along with 10 touchdowns in 2019.
It’s not often that a number three receiver puts up those sorts of numbers, though Antonio Brown had a 1000-yard season in 2011 before he was starting, and Jerricho Cotchery caught 10 touchdown passes in 2013, so it’s not as though it can’t be done.
But first, he has to climb his way back up the depth chart, and he appears to be making progress on that front, as yesterday was said to have been his best day of practice so far since training camp opened. He is gradually playing his way back into shape, which is of course a good thing, but he never should have allowed himself to get into that position in the first place.
Both Beckham and Landry are going to command a lot of attention from Baker Mayfield, similar to Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster for the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago, during which both caught over 1000 passes while facing north of 160 targets.
The Browns also make the tight end and running back positions a key piece of their passing game, which includes former first-round tight end David Njoku, who is looking to blossom this year. While he still wants his way out, Duke Johnson is going to be a part of that puzzle too as long as he is still on the team.
But that question that really matters is, will all of this talent on paper win the games that they need to actually live up to the vaunted expectations set up out in front of them?