"Chasing a Dream" is a recurring series on ClevelandBrowns.com 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.*
Ricardo Louis has heard the Andre Johnson comparisons before. And when it was broached during interviews on Monday afternoon, the rookie wide receiver from Auburn shook his head and laughed.
"That's like the fifth time I've heard that since I've been here," he said with a smile. "Growing up, I've watched him and I've met him a couple of times. My game's physical and fast, he's fast and physical, so that's a great compliment to me."
To be sure, Johnson, the longtime Texans star now with the Titans, is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and considered one of the best receivers of the last decade.
Louis, on the other hand, finds himself trying to earn a spot on the 53-man roster in a young, talented and crowded wide receivers room.
That's why when Browns associate head coach/offense Pep Hamilton likened the two big-bodied pass catchers last week, he did so with a caveat.
"When I say that," said Hamilton, who worked with Johnson in Indianapolis last year, "I say a poor man's Andre Johnson. Let me put it in perspective: They're working hard, and we'll find out next week when we play a game just where they are."
Indeed, the Browns will get a chance to evaluate all 90 players Friday night in their preseason opener at Green Bay.
Louis, in addition to the other 11 receivers on Cleveland's roster, will have a chance to reap what he's sewn over the past two weeks against the Packers.
"I'm ready. It's going to be a big step. It's going to be a test for a lot of rookies and, you know, even players that are still on the team now," he said. "It's just going to be mind-blowing really, your first NFL game, you see (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers on the field, and all the great players."
But Louis is mostly focused on what's been driving him since the Browns drafted him in the fourth round this spring.
"I came into camp with a goal in mind, to do everything that it takes to make the team," he said. "I think I've been doing that, whether it's on special teams or doing whatever it is they ask me on offense. I've been doing the best I can."
So far, it's an approach that has served Louis well. Perhaps best known for his "miracle catch" — a tipped pass that vaulted Auburn over Georgia in the waning moments of the 2013 game — Louis finished his senior season with 46 catches for 716 yards and three touchdowns.
Now with the Browns, and facing competition from fellow rookies like first-round pick Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins (a consensus All-American), Jordan Payton (UCLA's career receptions leader) and Dennis Parks, Louis said he wants to be a complete receiver, which is "a lot more than just running and catching balls."
"(It's) being a technician, releases and top of the routes, stuff like that is what (senior offensive assistant and wide receivers coach) Al (Saunders) has been teaching us," he said. "Everybody's been getting better at it every day."
And so has Louis, who will probably continue to draw comparisons Johnson for the foreseeable future. But he knows what's at stake in the meantime.
"There's a lot of competition in the receiver's room right now," Louis said. "It's all about grinding, listening to the coaches, and just getting better every day."