The Cleveland Browns’ addition of Odell Beckham Jr. will pay major dividends for the entire offense, but Antonio Callaway will benefit the most.
Antonio Callaway had an eventful rookie season with the Cleveland Browns in 2018. He was making splashes on the field, sometimes disappearing on the field, and even had an off-field issue before the regular season started.
But during the second half of the season, it seemed like Callaway started to become more comfortable on an NFL field. He was able to make an impact during games and was making plays all over the field, helping fuel a revitalized Browns offense.
In 16 games last season, the 22-year-old wide receiver caught 43 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns. In the final eight games of the season, Callaway caught 22 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns.
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His game seemed to elevate following the team’s bye week and playing in Freddie Kitchens’ offense. No longer was he only using his speed to make plays down the field, but he showed reliable hands in the short and intermediate parts of the field with explosive breaks to create space.
But with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr, Callaway has a chance to have a breakout season in 2019. No longer he is the only player on the Browns receiving corps who has the speed to take the top off a defense, so defenses won’t favor his side of the field when he is in formation.
Because of his speed, Callaway was one of Cleveland’s only threats down the field. To counter that, defenses could shade a safety over top of him to prevent him from being a vertical threat. But with Beckham on the field for the Browns, they can no longer shade the safety to Callaway unless they want Beckham to make plays all over their defense.
Beckham’s presence will help open the field for every other Browns pass catcher. With Jarvis Landry expected to spend more time the slot and working the middle of the field, Callaway should be the other outside receiver in three-wide sets.
If Callaway does in fact see more one-on-one coverage, he will have more opportunities to make an impact downfield. And with Todd Monken implementing his “Air Raid” concepts into Kitchens’ offense, there should be plenty chances for Callaway to use his speed downfield.
Callaway and Baker Mayfield seemed to build a strong chemistry towards the end of last season. If they can continue that chemistry into 2019, Callaway should have a chance to have a big year in his sophomore season.