WR Corey Coleman:Toward the end of offseason workouts, first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley said this season would be something of a "make or break" campaign for the third-year receiver. So far, those words seem to have lit a fire under Coleman, the 15th-overall pick in 2016 who has yet to live up to those lofty expectations because of injuries and other dynamics.
Over the past few days — notably in Sunday and Monday's practices — the former Baylor star has flashed the talent that made him one of college football's most explosive receivers. While time will tell if that translates to the regular season, it's been a promising showing.
"I think that his confidence is growing," head coach Hue Jackson said. "Corey is a confident player anyway. This is Year 3 and the fifth day in this, and he just kind of understands that you have to grind through it. He's done that. I've been really impressed. He's come out every day, been a little sore but has fought through it and went out and made plays."
WR Rashard Higgins:Coleman's draft mate, Higgins, has been equally impressive so far in camp. The wide receiver has made his own share of tough catches, including this one during one-on-one drills Sunday. Higgins, who didn't make the team's initial 53-man roster last season, has let that experience motivate him this time around.
"His rookie year, he was a young player learning his way. Last year, starting the season, he was released and brought back. I think that he made a commitment to himself that that would never happen to him again," Jackson said. "He had a good season last year. Made plays for us throughout the year. Now, here he is. I think that he looks around and says, 'Hey look, I want to be one of the guys that is left standing in the room. He is working his tail off."
What will be critical for Higgins going forward is consistency. His sophomore season was bookended by a big game against the Ravens (seven receptions for 95 yards) in September and the Steelers (three receptions, 68 yards, two touchdowns) in the season finale.
LB Genard Avery: The rookie from Memphis hardly looks like a youngster. Avery, a fifth-round pick this past spring, has earned some first-team repetitions as the Browns carefully work veteran Jamie Collins (who's coming off a season-ending knee injury) back into the starting lineup. Trust that Avery, a former powerlifter with quick feet, will find a role on this team.
"He's a guy that, I think that if he continues to keep the work ethic that he has, the sky's the limit," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "He's consistently asking questions in the meeting room; that's showing that he's attentive. He's always sticking around older guys, just trying to get more and more knowledge of the game. He came back bigger, but less body fat. It goes to show you that he's really in tune to his work ethic, he's really in tune to his work out. I think he's going to be good. He's one of the bright spots."
RB Nick Chubb: Nicknamed "Old School" by teammate Duke Johnson, Chubb has lived up to that moniker in practice, turning heads with a physical, no-frills running style that'll surely endear himself to fans in Cleveland.
"He's a football player and a really good football player," Jackson said. "There's a lot to him more so than what people think because he just looks like the guy that comes downhill and here we go, but he has some versatility to him, as well. There are some instincts, real runner's instincts that I see. I think that he's a talented runner."
Chubb had 223 carries for 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns last season at Georgia.
CB Terrance Mitchell:While Denzel Ward and T.J. Carrie currently hold down the Browns' starting cornerback spots, don't forget about Mitchell, who signed with the team in free agency this past spring. He's coming off a career year in which he made four interceptions and 18 pass breakups with the Chiefs.
Mitchell has continued that momentum in Cleveland, putting together a solid camp showing thus far. On Friday, he intercepted a pass from Tyrod Taylor intended for rookie receiver Antonio Callaway. Mitchell is competing with Ward, Carrie, veteran E.J. Gaines, Mike Jordan and rookie Simeon Thomas for a spot in the team's overhauled secondary.