Training Camp

Browns relying on Andrew Hawkins' smarts

It says it right there on Andrew Hawkins' Twitter bio.

*Leading wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. *

Other than those that know him best, few realize "Hawk" isn't just talking about his 63 catches and 824 yards last year in his first-ever season as a featured playmaker. 

Since he formally introduced himself to the Browns in April, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has made it clear during team meetings he is willing to listen to players who have potential ideas.

Always thinking ahead, the 5-foot-7 Hawkins is the type to pounce on this kind of opportunity. Remember this about Hawk: He briefly flirted with the idea of becoming a scout with the Lions and was offered a job after evaluating Calvin Johnson and Detroit receivers. Coach Mike Pettine said the 29-year-old receiver prides himself on his football acumen. The X's and O's aren't challenging for Hawkins – they're fun. They're like a game.

It's safe to say his idea swapping sessions with "Flip" have been frequent.

"He is very open to suggestions," Hawkins said. "So I'll go to Flip and say, 'Hey, what do you think of this?' And we'll go back and forth. Some got shot down (laughs). Some got the go."

Cleveland's wide receiver classroom is one of the most transformed position groups in the AFC North. Of the 13 total wideouts in training camp, only three caught a pass for the Browns last season – Hawkins, Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel. Think of all the new names who Cleveland will count on for catches: Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Vince Mayle. Then there's even guys like third-string standouts Josh Lenz, Darius Jennings, Kevin Cone, Terrelle Pryor and 5-foot-6 Cleveland native Shane Wynn.

"This is the first time ever in my life I'm not the shortest receiver," Hawkins said. "It is an awesome feeling. A lot of short jokes are getting thrown out in the meeting room."

As a player who's been vocal about developing his leadership skills, Hawkins has contributed behind the scenes by relaying to the coaches who feels most comfortable with certain routes.

"We might get a play and we say, 'Trav, you're good on this play,' and then it'll be, 'yep, Hawk, this one is for you because we know what routes are good for each receiver,'" Hawkins said. "That kind of chemistry, the earlier you have it, the better."

Will Hawkins still be leading the Cleveland Browns in receiving after the 2015 season? It's a healthy debate if you are talking statistics. Pettine said Hawkins showed last season he's versatile to line up as the outside receiver, but most of his practice work will come out of the slot. In this early August wide open competition, defined roles have not been marked with permanent ink.

But in terms of how Hawkins has immersed himself into the improvement of the team's wide receivers , the Browns are putting him and his football mind to work.

"When we are doing less thinking, we can play faster," Hawkins said. "Like I said earlier, we're a lot further along than we were last year."

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