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How the Browns receiving corps overcame "growing pains" throughout the season

Browns receivers recorded four straight games with over 300 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns


After a slow start to the season, the Browns receiving group finished the regular season strong and tapped into their potential. With four different starting quarterbacks this season, the receiving corps struggled to find momentum. However, the group has flourished now that QB Joe Flacco is under center.

The receiving corps had a tough time during the initial 12 weeks of the season. After their Week 12 matchup against the Rams, they have only gained 2,218 receiving yards this season, ranking 27th in the league. Additionally, they only had 24 plays over 20 yards, tied for 27th in the league. 

The Browns offense at the time only scored seven passing touchdowns, which ranked 30th in the league. They also had 21 dropped passes coming from three players in 11 games, according to Fox Sports.

"Growing pains," WR David Bell said. "We all go through trials and tribulations, and that was a pivotal point for us to reach the success we are at now. Us just constantly working, even if we don't get the outcome on Sundays. Our preparation at practice, going out there, and doing the best of our abilities will prevail. Last four to five weeks we have been balling just in time for the playoffs."

Things started to turn around for the Browns pass catchers in Week 13 against the Rams. Even though the Browns lost, the passing game was one of its best games of the season. Nine different players caught a pass, and the passing game finished with 254 yards. They also scored two receiving touchdowns, which they did only twice through 12 weeks.

The Browns went on a four-game winning streak for the next four weeks, and the passing game has flourished. They had four straight games with over 300 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. 

During that stretch, TE David Njoku has played the best football of his career. Since Week 14, Njoku has recorded 373 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Before that, he had 509 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The four-game stretch helped him earn his first Pro Bowl nod of his career.

"Yeah, it's my second year playing with Dave," WR Amari Cooper said. "Just his willingness to get better, his willingness to learn, him wanting to get better each and every day. Dave has a lot of talent, a lot of speed, and a lot of good qualities for this position. He's very strong, great blocker. So, I'm happy for him that he got his first Pro Bowl. We're proud of him, but I'm sure that there's many more."

Five Browns were selected for the 2024 Pro Bowl Games. G Joel Bitonio, WR Amari Cooper, DE Myles Garrett, TE David Njoku and CB Denzel Ward were all selected with Bitonio, Garrett and Cooper being voted as starters. The 2024 Pro Bowl Games will be a multi-day AFC versus NFC competition culminating on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

Njoku wasn't the only person to take their game to a different level. Cooper's performance had an incredible stretch from Weeks 14 through 17. In the first 12 weeks of the season, Cooper had six games in which he had over 80 receiving yards. However, in every other game, he had under 40 yards.

Cooper struggled with some inconsistency as the Browns dealt with a fluid quarterback situation due to injuries. However, Cooper found a connection with Flacco in Week 14. Cooper has caught 22 passes for 451 yards and three touchdowns in three games. 

In Week 17, Cooper had his best game of his career and broke a franchise record. He broke the Browns' single-game record by racking up 265 receiving yards. In that same game, he scored two touchdowns on 11 catches and became the first player in Browns' history to have back-to-back seasons of 1,000 receiving yards. His performance this season earned him his fifth Pro Bowl nod of his career.

"I'm really proud of Amari, too, getting to the Pro Bowl," OC Alex Van Pelt said. "I thought, well deserved. Guy has always played for us when he can. Played through a terrible injury last year. Got all the way through and really happy for him because he's very deserving."

The Browns passing game has found their groove at the right time. They are now confident they can line up against anyone and perform well in the playoffs. Cooper, who has the most playoff experience in the group, is preparing everyone for what's to come. While he doesn't make drastic changes, he is aware of the level of preparation required for the playoffs.

"I mean, obviously, there's heightened awareness," Cooper said. "You might want to do a little extra, pushups, run a little bit more because you do get excited for the playoffs. Teams, I would say from my experience, they become more intentional. The game plan is a little bit sharper. Everything is just a little bit sharper. So, you want to stay sharp."