Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jaelen Strong last played in the NFL in 2017, but he could be increasing his chances to make Cleveland’s final roster.
The Cleveland Browns have a loaded group of wide receivers on the roster for training camp, creating an intriguing battle for the final spots available on the wide receiver depth chart. However, the competition has taken a bit of a hit over the past several days.
Blake Jackson, who had a strong first week of camp and was making his presence known in the battle, was released with an injury designation on Friday. Also, Damion Ratley has not practiced since the first day of camp, hurting his chances in the competition.
Without those two receivers, the competition seems to be between Derrick Willies, Jaelen Strong, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, and Ishmael Hyman. But over the past several days, it has been Willies and Strong that have started to stand out from the group.
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Both Willies and Strong have been getting snaps with the first-team offense over the past several days. Willies has put together a more consistent camp, but Strong has had a string of good practices recently, especially in the Orange and Brown scrimmage.
Strong showed off his ability to make plays in tight windows, including making leaping grabs over the defender or diving to make a grab. As Strong becomes a consistent threat to make tough catches, he will continue to build his case with the Browns coaching staff. According to Nick Shook of the Browns official website, Strong has worked on “remaking his body” this offseason.
"The other is Jaelen Strong, a former third-round pick of the Texans who was out of the league in 2018 due to an ACL injury and has spent this offseason remaking his body in order to become a quicker, more durable target. – Shook, ClevelandBrowns.com"
When the Texans made Strong a third-round selection, his ability to high-point a ball and make plays over defenders was always his biggest strength. What he needed to develop his route running and creating separation.
Even though he is showing the potential of being a play-maker, Strong will need to showcase what he can do on special teams. Much like every other player battling for the final roster spots, they need to make plays on special teams because most of their time during the season will be played on special teams units.
The Browns signing of Strong was a low-risk move that has the potential of paying big dividends. As the Browns start preparing for their first preseason game, Strong has a chance to make plays against someone other than his own teammates and help his chances at winning a job.