Cleveland Browns: 3 second-year players who need to succeed
3. Antonio Callaway, Wide Receiver
With Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Rashard Higgins on the roster it may not seem as though Antonio Callaway would be a player who the team needs. However, that’s not the case. While Cleveland has an incredibly stacked receiver corps, Callaway is going to be relied on to produce even more this season than he was as a rookie.
One of the reasons is because of his ability to stretch the field. While the Browns do have great options out wide, Landry is more effective in the underneath routes and Higgins doesn’t possess the kind of deep speed that the former Florida Gator has.
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Callaway showed off that speed early in the season when he burnt the New Orleans Saints on a fourth-and-long play that went 47-yards for a touchdown. He also ripped off a 59-yarder against the Oakland Raiders in Week 4 and a 71-yard reception in Week 13 against the Houston Texans. Having the ability to score from anywhere on the field makes him vital to the success of the offense this season.
Another area where he will be needed will be on special teams. Last season, the leading return man for the Browns was Jabrill Peppers who has since been traded to the New York Giants. With him gone, Callaway gives them the best option as a returner.
As a rookie, he had just eight kickoff returns and five punt returns but did have the longest run back for each — 37 yards on a punt and 35 on a kickoff. Should he focus on this part of the job more, he could be even better, as evidenced by his collegiate success.
Callaway had 55 punt returns for the Gators and averaged just under 12 yards per return with two touchdowns. He also ran a kickoff back for a score in 2016 despite having only three returns on the year. Nothing changes the course of a game like a great return and this is something Callaway would be able to bring thanks to his explosiveness.