3 Cleveland Browns players who need to step up after the bye

• WR in a contract year

• A veteran running back could make the difference

• Deshaun Watson needs time to throw

Tennessee Titans v Cleveland Browns
Tennessee Titans v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Heading into their Week 5 bye at 2-2 was not what the Cleveland Browns hoped for. They knew the first four games would be tough but there was a sense they could have won three — if not all four — of those games.

That didn't happen as they gave one away in Pittsburgh then had to start rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson against the Ravens in Week 4 — and the entire team seemed out of sorts.

Even with the disappointment at the start of the season, the Browns aren't in a bad spot when it comes to the standings. They're still a legitimate playoff-contending team when they play to their potential. And in order for that to happen, they really could use a push from these three players.

3. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR

2022 was a breakout campaign for Donovan Peoples-Jones. The former sixth-round pick finished with 61 receptions for 839 yards with three touchdowns. He even got the season kicked off with a bang as he had six receptions for 60 yards in Week 1 against the Panthers.

This year, things haven't been nearly as good for DPJ. In four games, he's been able to haul in the same number of passes he did to start last year as he'll enter Week 6 with six receptions (on 14 targets) for 75 yards.

Cleveland has been throwing the ball to Elijah Moore more often than DPJ but he's averaging just 8.7 yards per catch compared to 12.5 for Peoples-Jones.

He doesn't need to put up the same numbers he did in 2022 but in order for this offense to reach its potential, he has to start drawing some attention away from Moore and Amari Cooper.