Andrew Hawkins – 21 catches, 244 yards, 11.6 yards per catch
We knew Cleveland was committed to giving Hawkins a larger role in the offense when they signed him to a four-year contract in March. But not many would've predicted Hawkins would become the most important weapon for Brian Hoyer to throw to.
The timing of Hawkins' catches is what has impressed the most. The Browns aren't hiding the fact that they are targeting the 5-foot-7 receiver on third-downs, yet he is continuing to deliver whatever the route – over the middle, near the sideline and even after the catch. Fourteen of Hawkins' 21 catches have gone for first-downs. Hoyer compared Hawkins' skill set to Wes Welker earlier in the summer, and so far, that description has been spot on.
"He'll give you everything he has," said wide receiver coach Mike McDaniel. "I'm sure if you asked DBs that he's played against…you go through warmups and you see a smaller stature. You're just not expecting that feistiness. He is a football player. That's what's special about him. He's not just a slot, skill, finesse player. He's a football player."
Miles Austin – 14 catches, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns
The longtime Dallas Cowboy, who was released in March, was out to prove he still had plenty of productive football left in his tank, and he's doing exactly that in Cleveland. After a few years of playing second-fiddle to Dez Bryant, now Austin is seeing opposing teams use their number one cornerback on him in coverage. It hasn't been a problem, especially in the red zone, where the 30-year-old has snagged two touchdown catches.
Taylor Gabriel – 6 catches, 99 yards
The Browns may have not of drafted a receiver, but they've ended up with a pretty solid one. Gabriel proved to be a better fit for this offense than veteran receivers Earl Bennett, Nate Burleson and Anthony Armstrong.
Those Browns fans who didn't exactly know who Gabriel was were formally introduced last week against the Ravens. The rookie from Abilene Christian dove to haul in a deep Hoyer pass, raced to his feet and dashed for a 70-yard gain. The play didn't result in a touchdown, but it proved to other NFL teams the speedy Gabriel can be used as a weapon.
"I was pumped because I could tell…I've seen him track many deep balls in practice," said McDaniel. "He doesn't waver at all, and he hasn't wavered as a rookie. I knew he lost it in the sun. He didn't see it until it was like 10 feet in front of his face, so I was just happy that he caught it the second I saw him stutter. I know in the future he's going to want to catch that standing up and take it into the end zone obviously."
The superstar in waiting
*Josh Gordon *
The NFL's leading receiver from 2013 will be reinstated to play in Week 12 at the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 23. The news is positive because Gordon is now joining his teammates for lifting and study sessions in the practice facility
First and foremost, the Browns care about Josh Gordon the person. Yes, his dominant football skills will help Cleveland win games. But his future and wellbeing are what matter most.
"As an organization you have a guy whose out for the year all of a sudden you have a chance to get him back at the end it's a big plus for us," said coach Mike Pettine. It's not just 'hey, we have a good player back for six games.' We talk about building long term sustained success here and making sure that we're getting him everything he needs is just a bigger part of it as what he can do on the field for us."
"I talk to Josh often," said McDaniel. "Right now, my role is to be a supporter because one thing that jumped off the map for me once I started working with him in the spring is he does want to be great. He truly does. As a young person being pulled in every sort of direction, you've got to remember he was a three-star athlete coming out of high school. Then he goes to Baylor. He goes through that process, and he's in the supplemental draft. He's a second-round draft pick, and then all of the sudden he's an NFL star. It's a lot to handle. He wants to be great so I support him in everything that he does. I try to do my best job to get him to be what his ultimate desire to be is which is the best receiver that he can be."