Browns face interesting situation at wide receiver entering Week 5

During the offseason, much of the talk related to the ballyhooed Browns centered on the receiver position.

After all, the Browns had just added one of the league's top five players at the position, and he was joining forces with his best friend who also happened to own the NFL record for most receptions in his first four seasons. Things were destined to be explosive.

They have been, in spurts more than stretches, through four weeks. Odell Beckham Jr. racked up 161 yards and a score in a Week 2 win over the Jets, and Jarvis Landry tallied eight catches for 167 yards in Sunday's win over the Ravens. But before the season even began, some unexpected changes altered the outlook for the group.

Damion Ratley suffered a hamstring injury on the first day of training camp. Antonio Callaway was suspended for the first four games by the NFL. And even Beckham missed some time with a hip injury.

The group and the offense as a whole persevered, though, bringing the roster to a six-man group of Beckham, Landry, Ratley, Rashard Higgins and late additions Taywan Taylor and KhaDarel Hodge by the time Week 1 arrived. That group is about to change once more in Week 5.

Landry suffered a concussion in Sunday's win and is in concussion protocol with no definitive answer for when he might return. Higgins has missed every game since the Week 1 loss to the Titans due to a knee injury, but appears to be on the path to returning soon. Callaway has completed his suspension and will rejoin the team this week, meaning a corresponding roster move will have to be made.

So how might the depth chart look Monday night?

For starters, Beckham will be available and expected to contribute plenty. If Higgins is healthy enough to play, he also stands the chance to make a handful of key plays. Callaway's readiness is unknown, considering he's been away from the team for the last month, and Landry's status should be monitored, though not depended upon in preparations for San Francisco.

Ratley is the intriguing figure of the group. He's seen plenty of snaps, was targeted three times and made one catch for 10 yards Sunday. He also was nearly on the receiving end of what would have been one of the most impressive plays of the 2019 season, when Beckham received a double reverse, stepped up through two defenders' tackle attempts and fired a missile to Ratley near the goal line.

The pass ended up falling through Ratley's hands to the ground. But Ratley isn't going anywhere but up in the weeks ahead, as the staff remains very high on him, in part because of his ability to fill voids whenever they arise.

"Jarvis brings energy. Odell [Beckham Jr.] brings energy. Those guys bring energy to the huddle and to the field, and when Jarvis goes out, it's a shock," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said Sunday. "But, we adjusted well. Any time someone goes out, we need to adjust in another area. 

"'Rat' [Damion Ratley] did a really good job even switching positions – he played all three positions today. That's a testament to his knowledge and his desire to get into the playbook and learn the system. Because that's what happens, you only have so many receivers, so somebody has to be that guy."

Ratley could be an even bigger version of that guy Monday night if Landry can't play. It would only be fitting for him to be the difference-maker in Week 5 for a team that has already fought through its own fair share of unfortunate circumstances.

"You do not really find out what you have until you hit adversity because then you either run together, you run toward each other or you separate," Kitchens said during Monday's conference call. "We do not have any guys who separated during the first three weeks. I will reiterate that this is just one game, and that is it. We are going to try to make corrections off this game. We are going to approach this game just like we did with the previous three and just keep our head down, keep working and worry about what is inside of our building and that is it."

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