Physically, little has changed. Ricardo Louis was one of the Browns' most athletically gifted players in 2016 and he remains that way entering the 2017 season.
But now, as he displayed throughout the Browns offseason program, the fourth-round wide receiver is moving with a purpose. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound pass-catcher is maximizing those abilities one year after the sometimes overwhelming transition to the NFL got the best of him at times.
"I'm just a lot more confident in knowing what I have and command of the offense," Louis said. "I know the offense a lot more now than I did last year so once I hear the play and I know exactly what to do, I can play even faster because the DB doesn't know what I am going to do, so they can't stop me."
With injuries limiting Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman throughout OTAs and minicamp, Louis had plenty of opportunities to impress against Cleveland's top defensive backs. More often than not, Louis was split out as a member of the Browns' first-team offense.
No matter the route or play, Louis showed a sense of comfort that wasn't attainable as a relatively raw rookie. The former high school quarterback wasn't an every-down receiver at Auburn and readily admits he's still learning some of the finer points of the position. He caught 18 passes for 205 yards last season, the majority of which coming when he filled in for an injured Corey Coleman during the first half of the season.
That aspect of his development is ongoing, but it's now accompanied with the valuable experience he gained last season.
"He has really improved," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "He has improved his route running and improved his initial quickness off the line. I think he understands the National Football League game better. He has worked extremely hard."
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Senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders called Louis a "magnificent" notetaker who is as diligent in the classroom as he is with his training. And it's gone beyond his allotted time in Berea with Browns coaches, as Louis recently heard back from longtime NFL veteran Brandon Marshall and plans to train with him sometime before training camp.
Saunders said "there's not a guy in that room that prepares anymore diligently off the field and at home than Ricardo."
"Now he lines up at the line of scrimmage and hears the play and sees the defense and recognizes the coverage, he goes 100 miles per hour," Saunders said. "He's a talented young man. I'm thrilled he feels really comfortable in what he's doing and am really excited when we get him to the preseason and take that transition and get into real physical football and play the game when things aren't what you expect it to be. He's been terrific."
Louis paused last week when he was asked about gunning for the No. 3 receiver spot behind Britt and Coleman. Simply put, he has higher aspirations now that he's playing with so much confidence.
"I'm learning, I'm playing fast, I'm catching the ball better, I'm doing everything coach Al has been preaching to us. When he says I do something right, I want to capitalize on that and do it better every day."