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Training Camp

Chasing a Dream: Rashard Higgins making plays with soft hands, smooth routes, chip on his shoulder


Chasing a Dream" is a recurring series on that profiles the rookies and other overlooked players on the roster who have beaten the odds in the past and look to do the same in the NFL.*

In the days before his NFL debut, Rashard Higgins spoke of nerves about Friday's night's preseason opener at Green Bay.  

"I'm a little nervous, I'm a little excited, but I'm ready," the spunky Browns rookie wide receiver said last week.

"I know this team is ready and we're ready to showcase what we're about."

When it was all said and done, Higgins shook off any pre-game jitters and stood out on an otherwise sluggish night for Cleveland's offense in a 17-11 loss to the Packers.

Higgins' first reception? A touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone that was duly followed by a celebration with his teammates.

Now, as the Browns prepare to host Atlanta on Thursday night in the preseason home opener, Higgins continues a quest to make a name for himself in a young, talented and crowded wide receivers room.

And with only a handful of spots on the 53-man roster, there is considerable competition among the 12 receivers.

"I don't say we like are fighting against each other – we're fighting to build with the whole team. I know with (Browns coach) Hue (Jackson) and us as a team, we just want to win," Higgins said. "So however we can contribute to the team, that's the way we're going to do it."

In the process, the fifth-round draft pick has leaned on the coaching staff and veterans in the room — like Andrew Hawkins and Marlon Moore — to take his talents to the next level.

"Those guys are always finishing on their blocks, just doing the small things that have kept them in the league so long," Higgins said. "That's what I'm trying to learn from and hopefully pick up the things that they can teach me."

There also things you can't teach, such as Higgins' soft hands or how he runs in and out of his routes with a certain grace.

"I put a lot of emphasis on route running. I know every time I get a chance I'm always working on how I can beat my defender coming in and out of my break," Higgins said. "I know if I'm 'pitty patting' trying to get out of my break that that gives the DB more time to close in on me and break the ball up.

"That's just how I've come to terms with how I'm doing the little things to try to help my game."

The Browns face the Packers in the first game of the preseason at Green Bay.

In addition to first-round draft pick Corey Coleman, who has shined through training camp, Higgins' strong play has caught the coaching staff's attention.

"He's a good football player. He knows how to play the game," Jackson said last week. "He's got tremendous hands, and he's just understanding the National Football League game, working every day. Very proud of the things he's done."

Nicknamed "Hollywood" by his pee-wee football coach because "I was just making big plays, man, and it just stuck around," Higgins isn't shy about his desire to develop into a playmaker for the Browns. He's been there before.

In his sophomore season at Colorado State, he was a consensus All-American after catching 96 passes for 1,749 yards and 17 touchdowns. He followed that effort with 1,000-plus yards last year.

Higgins also isn't coy when it comes to what he describes as something as a chip on his shoulder following a draft in which he was the 18th overall receiver taken.  

"I have a lot motivation coming my way. I feel like I should've been (drafted) higher than that, but you know what, God put me in this predicament for a reason," he said, "and I'm going to go out and show the people what I'm about." 

Last Friday was a good start.

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