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Browns eager to use Elijah Moore's 'exceptional' skills in variety of roles

Moore was one of the most intriguing players to watch on each play of minicamp


Of all the takeaways from minicamp about how the Browns' passing game will change in Year 2 under QB Deshaun Watson, perhaps no observation was more noteworthy than the variety of ways WR Elijah Moore lined up in the offense.

Moore's positioning was different on just about every play. He'd open one drill as an outside receiver, then take the next play from the slot. He was also flexed to the backfield on several occasions, or started a play from the backfield and was optioned back to a normal receiver spot before the ball was snapped.

Those examples are all part of the Browns taking their due diligence to discover where Moore could fit best in their offense, and based on what pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea saw last week, he believes Moore will be able to handle any job. 

"Elijah is very unique in that he can play multiple roles," O'Shea said. "He has a great skill set physically, but the thing that's been most impressive about Elijah is his ability to function mentally across all the spots we've put him. Mentally, he's been able to handle that. He increases his value for us as he increases his role."

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Moore's value should take off with the Browns, who acquired him in a trade with the Jets in March for their 2023 second-round pick. The potential has always been there for Moore since he was drafted by New York with the 34th overall pick in 2021, but a variety of factors prevented him from being able to showcase his talents for a full season.

That shouldn't continue in Cleveland.

Moore, who set career-highs of 538 receiving yards and five touchdowns his rookie season, can safely be penciled in as the second receiver on the yet-to-be-made depth chart behind Amari Cooper, whom Moore should complement well with his deep-ball abilities and potential to stretch a defense. With Cooper occupying attention in the intermediate levels of the defense, Moore should be able to do his damage in the short- and deep-ball sectors of the pass game.

The Browns see plenty of ways Moore can achieve that, which is why he was used all across the offense in the three practice days last week.

"He has great athleticism, both short-area athleticism and his ability to run and have great speed," O'Shea said. "The thing I'm impressed most with him physically is his ability to catch the ball. He has exceptionally strong hands, so as well as Deshaun throws the ball downfield, Elijah is able to track the ball at all levels of the offense. He can track the ball in the short area and catch and run. He can get behind the defense and track the deep ball very well."

Watson attempted several deep balls to Moore throughout minicamp and the spring practices that preceded camp. Moore caught most of them, and their chemistry certainly appeared to improve throughout the offseason program.

Spring practices, though, are geared toward building success in the pass game due to its low-tempo nature. A true picture of the status of Watson and Moore's chemistry won't be apparent until training camp, when pads are worn for the first time and the intensity of practices increases.

But if there's anything to be learned about the duo from minicamp, it's that the Browns are willing to explore every way possible to give Moore a chance to break out in his first year in Cleveland.

"Especially at his size being a small receiver, he really plays big, in my opinion, and he has exceptional ball skills," O'Shea said. "It fits really well with our quarterback. He's really been a fun guy to coach and scheme for because of his ability to play in a lot of different positions."

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