Anthony Schwartz started eyeing up the short walls around the end zones at Lambeau Field as soon as he stepped onto the grass for pregame warm-ups.
Schwartz, the third-round rookie receiver, was imagining himself as the next player taking a "Lambeau Leap" into a crowd of fans at the historic stadium. Sure, he was a player on a visiting team and hadn't yet scored a touchdown as a rookie, but how could a 21-year-old football player not think about conducting one of the most well-known celebrations in football on a trip to Green Bay?
Luckily for Schwartz, his vision came true in the fourth quarter.
Schwartz caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Browns their final points last Saturday in their eventual 24-22 loss to the Packers. The moment, however, was still an all-time highlight for Schwartz, who looked at the wall shortly after he caught the pass and eyed his target for the leap: a group of Browns fans in bright orange caps who were going wild right as Schwartz made the catch.
"It was just kind of a spur of the moment," Schwartz said. "I was scanning throughout the game. I was kind of scanning just to see, and then luckily, I looked up and they were literally right there."
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Schwartz took the leap into the fans' arms, and he might've also taken a leap further into the Browns' offensive plans in their remaining two games by scoring the touchdown — and showing on multiple plays how much his speed can catch a defense off-guard.
The touchdown was Schwartz's lone grab of a night that also featured him running the ball two times for 24 yards. The first carry went for 11 yards, while the other went for 13 yards. Both plays picked up first downs, which is just what the Browns hope to achieve every time the ball is in Schwartz's hands.
Schwartz, one of the fastest players from the 2021 draft class, has managed to touch the football 14 times in 12 games this season. He has nine catches for 122 yards and five rushes for 36 yards, and he's managed to register eight first downs in that small sample size of opportunities.
A concussion in Week 10 forced him to miss the next four weeks, but Schwartz said Thursday he feels he's still made plenty of progress in adjusting to the NFL and improving his game since Week 1.
"Just going through the season, seeing how it goes and not being the big-eyed rookie that I was at the start of the season," he said. "Now I feel like I'm more mature, I have the mood of everything going on and I've been grinding."
As his eight first downs suggest, Schwartz has made the most of many of his opportunities this season, and he's hoping to continue to do just that in the final two games.
His role could expand even more as the Browns look for ways to advance their offense in a late-season playoff push. Schwartz's speed is useful both as a receiver and runner, and the Browns made it clear last Saturday in Green Bay they'll use end-around plays and other creative play designs to get the ball in his hands.
"Sometimes it's the right time. Sometimes it might not be the right time," Schwartz said. "I was just waiting for my number to be called. No matter if it's on reverses, sweeps or anything, I'm there waiting and always prepared."
Schwartz, like everyone else, is ready to handle any roles necessary to take the Browns to the playoffs. They have two games left and must win both — while receiving some help around the league — to keep their playoff chances alive.
Cleveland will need everyone to chip in, and as his touchdown last week suggests, Schwartz is more than capable of making contributions.
"It's win or go home," he said. "It doesn't matter that it's the regular season; to us, it's the playoffs. We know it's going to be a big one, especially because of the stakes."