A lot of talk this week has been centered on wide receiver Brian Robiskie and his slide down the depth chart. While I don’t find it likely that he will be cut, his lack of playing time and targets could make it difficult for him to take the third-year leap that so many have hoped for.
And while it is disappointing to see Robiskie begin a fade in the wrong direction pointing squarely at obscurity, at least he is able to get onto the field. The even bigger disappointment for the Cleveland Browns this training camp has been wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and the chip fracture in his left foot.
The Browns’ No. 1 receiver in 2010 has missed all of training camp up to this point, spending it on the sidelines in a cast, and then a walking boot. Although he is finally ready to start doing some actual running, there is no guarantee that Browns fans will see him get any action in the preseason. The smart thing to do would be to make sure that everything is fully healed before sending Massaquoi onto the field.
But what will that do for his role in the team’s offense? This isn’t like running back Peyton Hillis’ situation, where his starting role is guaranteed once he returns from injury. This training camp has seen the emergence of second-round pick Greg Little, who has cemented his place in the Browns’ receiving corps.
Close behind him is the further development of Josh Cribbs as a wide receiver. He has looked far more confident at the position and looks to be a factor once the season starts.
With that kind of competition, the No. 1 spot isn’t likely to simply be waiting for Massaquoi’s return. He has a lot of ground to make up, especially if his first game is the Browns’ season opener, and there is no guarantee that he will be able to unseat someone like Greg Little from his spot. There might just not be enough room for Massaquoi when it’s all said and done.
Massaquoi has the talent to be a good player in the league and has shown flashes of that in his young career. He has also been hampered by poor quarterback play and previous offensive systems that overlooked him. With a real opportunity, Massaquoi could probably be the receiver the Browns expected him to be when he was drafted, but there are a lot of obstacles blocking his path to that goal.
This is supposed to be the year that players like Massaquoi and Robiskie take the next step in becoming reliable NFL wide receivers. If 2011 is a bust for either one, or both, of them, finding playing time is going to be difficult on any team.