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Browns pass catchers have to minimize drops against the Rams

Cleveland’s receivers corps ranks 27th in receiving yards


In the last two games, the Browns receiving corps has failed to reach 200 receiving yards. The team's inconsistent performance this season may have been due to uncertainty surrounding their quarterback. However, the group must find a way to play one of their best games this season against a Rams defensive back group that is one of the best in the league.

The Browns offense has scored a total of three touchdowns this season. However, including their other pass catchers TE David Njoku and Harrison Bryant, they have seven touchdowns this year. They are 30th in the league in passing touchdowns this season.

They have only managed to gain 2,218 receiving yards this season, ranking 27th in the league. Additionally, they only have 24 plays over 20 yards, tied for 27th in the league. The team does not have a true deep-threat speed receiver who can turn a 10-yard catch into a gain of 35 or more.

Looking forward to Sunday, the Browns receiving corps may have their fourth starting quarterback of the season as QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson goes through the concussion protocol. QB Joe Flacco has been getting reps at practice this week, and he's a quarterback who has shown his arm strength.

"That's what the game is about making explosive plays, getting good field position so that we can score points," WR Amari Cooper said.

Cooper is the number one receiver on the team and has had big plays, but he is more of a possession catch wideout. Cooper has had six games this season in which he had over 80 receiving yards. However, in every other game, he has had under 40 yards. 

Cooper is the leader of the group on and off the field. Even when he's not having a good game, he runs all his routes hard and doesn't stop communicating with whoever is at quarterback on the sidelines.

"I think the biggest thing is his authenticity," OC Alex Van Pelt said. "He is a real dude, and those guys, they see the success that he's had through hard work. He's a very selfless receiver, which is in today's game it's great to have a guy like that, and he sets a great example, his work ethic and his ability to make plays on game day. I'm sure those guys all look up to him, as do I."

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Los Angeles Rams

WR Elijah Moore has also been used all over the field this year but for short-yard results. Moore has caught one touchdown this season and has 418 receiving yards in 11 games played. In his last two games, however, Moore has had his best games. He caught six passes for 60 yards against the Steelers and three passes for 44 yards against the Broncos. In Denver, he also had a 36-yard reception – his second-longest of the year.

Finally, WR Cedric Tillman has just started getting in the rotation after WR Donovan Peoples-Jones was traded to the Lions. Tillman has 14 catches for 65 yards this season in five games. He has his best game this season against the Broncos, catching four passes for 55 yards.

This group will face a Rams defense group that is 12th in receiving yards allowed with 2,397 and tied for third in touchdowns allowed with 11. The Rams have a young secondary with two cornerbacks that are sophomores in the league.

CB Derion Kendrick has one interception and seven pass deflections this season. They also have CB Cobie Durant with 19 tackles and five pass deflections.

The team's most skilled cornerback is the experienced Ahkello Witherspoon, who has managed to deflect nine passes, make 27 tackles and snatch two interceptions. On the other hand, the defensive backs of the Rams are led by S Jordan Fuller, who is an all-around player. He has an interception, three forced fumbles, 39 tackles and six pass deflections.

The Browns have thrown 13 interceptions this season, ending a number of drives. While the Rams defensive group is tough to crack, they don't force many interceptions. The Rams have only five interceptions this season, which is tied for 31st in the league. 

The major key for the Browns against the Rams is not to drop the ball. The Browns have had 21 drops this season, coming from three players, according to Fox Sports. Njoku leads the league in drops with 10, while RB Jerome Ford has seven and Cooper has four.  This must change moving forward for the group to give them better opportunities to move drives along.

Yet, the Browns have been practicing this week and aren't concerned about the longevity of dealing with the dropped passes. 

"These guys catch the ball for a living, they do a great job of doing it," Van Pelt said. "It just so happens that two weeks in a row we put a few on the ground that were catchable. Obviously, we'll emphasize that in the week. Is it concentration, is it completing the eyes on the ball the whole time through the catch? I think a couple of times we may have taken our eyes off the ball to go look for YAC – yards after the catch. So, letting these guys know, you guys catch the ball for a living, you're going to catch it again. "

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