As Amari Cooper holds out, Browns might have found a breakout star

Cleveland Browns, Cedric Tillman
Cleveland Browns, Cedric Tillman / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

When the Cleveland Browns reported to Berea for training camp, there was one noticeable absence. Veteran wide receiver Amari Cooper was a no-show as he seeks a new contract. They also were without Jerry Jeudy at one point as he was working with trainers due to a minor injury.

That opened the door for second-year wideout Cedric Tillman to take more snaps with Deshaun Watson and the starters — and he didn't disappoint.

Tillman, a third-round pick from Tennessee, showed up to camp ready to make a leap. Lace Reisland of quickly pointed out the difference in his build as well as the speed he showed. Reisland shared a video of Tillman using his size to catch a high pass and said this could be a breakout season for him.

Browns WR Cedric Tillman cleaning up his route tree

The focus for Tillman has been figuring out how to use his size in the red zone. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder gained 224 yards on 21 receptions but finished without a touchdown. He's hoping to change that while also refining his technique as a route runner.

Another clip shared by Reisland shows Tillman running a precise route against Martin Emerson, who is an excellent corner in man coverage.

The knock on Tillman coming into the league was the lack of routes he handled while at Tennessee. Cleveland brought him along slowly as a rookie and while he impressed often, he also had some moments to forget.

One example was in their Week 15 win over the Chicago Bears when Tillman took a route upfield while Joe Flacco expected him to run a cross between the linebacker and safety. The miscommunication led to a pick from Eddie Jackson.

Growing pains are the norm for young players but Tillman has entered year two ready for a fresh start and potential breakout campaign.

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