The third installment of our position preview series focuses on a group that stands to make as much improvement as any on the Browns roster in 2018.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS
What we know: Something needed to change after a 2017 season in which Cleveland's receiving corps dealt with injuries and inconsistency from start to finish. The unit improved a bit with the addition of Gordon for the final five games, but it still wasn't good enough. The arrival of Landry, a three-time Pro Bowler who has amassed more catches than anyone in NFL history over the first four seasons of his career, changed the entire complexion of the group. Landry's fiery, competitive demeanor was on display throughout the offseason workout program, and it appeared to rub off on his teammates. The first-team grouping of Landry, Gordon and Coleman provided a threat that simply hasn't been there for years. Callaway flashed the big-time potential the Browns believe he has during rookie minicamp but was hampered by multiple injuries. Louis, who had the most receiving yards of any Browns wide receiver last season, was limited with an injury. Janis, who was signed in free agency, looks poised to fill a big role on special teams on top of his receiving duties. Board, who joined the Browns as a practice squad player late last season, made a number of plays working against the second- and third-team units during OTAs and minicamp.
Biggest question: How will Coleman fit within this group? The former first-round selection hasn't had the start he envisioned to his NFL career. He's broken his hand twice and dealt with consistency issues en route to amassing 56 catches, 718 yards and five touchdowns in 19 games. In one way, the pressure on Coleman has decreased because of the presence of Landry and Gordon. But Coleman, who was healthy and active throughout the offseason workout program, and his coaches know the third season is a big one for all NFL players, and they haven't hidden from acknowledging it. "He has just got to keep working on it," wide receivers coach Adam Henry said. "That is the biggest thing that he does. He comes in early. He works hard. He is taking notes. He is doing the little things, just learning the route techniques and things of that nature. Doing the things that he does well and to expound on that, just kind of tweaking some things. Mentally, just being in there. He is chomping at the bit. He wants more. It is just a progression each and every day."
X-Factor: When the Browns selected Callaway in the fourth round, they believed they were getting one of the best receivers in the draft. Off-field concerns, of course, drove down Callaway's value, but Cleveland believes it has the right support system to keep him pointed in the right direction. His exposure was limited during the offseason workout program because of injuries, making his upcoming training camp all the more important. It's been more than a year since Callaway played in an official football game but there's still an opportunity to make an immediate impact. Even if he doesn't find a place in the regular rotation, Callaway could help in a big way on special teams, where he's among the favorites to return punts and kicks.
Stat tracker: Higgins and Louis tied for first among Browns wide receivers with 27 receptions in 2017, a total that ranked fifth behind two running backs and two tight ends.
Says it all: "They like to be confident with what they are doing. I will welcome that, but at the same time, you have to go out on the field and do it. You have to prove it. (Gordon) is working hard. The guys are working hard. Steadily making that progress. We are just trying to get a little bit better than we were yesterday." -- Henry
How many were kept at last year's 53-man cutdown? 5