Corey Coleman wouldn't trade his first-game experience for anything. It was necessary for the first-round wide receiver.
Now, with Thursday's preseason finale against the Bears on the horizon, Coleman has his eyes on a more productive outing he use to bolster his confidence entering the regular season. He was among the happiest to hear it when coach Hue Jackson announced the starters would play in some capacity.
"I think it's a good idea," Coleman said. "It will give me some extra reps. I haven't played in the first two preseason games, and I want to play, too. I'm excited to see how much I play. I'm just excited to be out there."
Coleman has been lauded for his progress on the practice field since the start of training camp and he proved how dangerous he can be during a team scrimmage early in the month, catching three long passes down the sidelines against members of the first- and second-team defense. A hamstring injury kept him out of the first two preseason games, but he was healthy enough to participate in joint practices with the Buccaneers and played 17 snaps in the game.
Coleman was targeted twice but wasn't able to nab his first NFL catch. Jackson suggested Coleman could have been "pressing a little bit" in his first professional experience.
Jackson said Coleman has a "tremendous grasp" of the Browns playbook and wasn't hindered in that capacity.
"So much has been said about this great receiving corps that we have, but at the same time, I think they understand you have to prove that on the field," Jackson said. "Sometimes there is a lot of anxiety that can be built up from that. He needed to play. We all understand and know he needed to play, and I think he's just going to get better from here on in."
Four years removed from his preseason debut, quarterback Robert Griffin III remembered the nerves like it happened yesterday. He had an easy time relating to a receiver he worked with throughout the offseason and struck up good chemistry with in training camp.
"People think that preseason games don't matter and don't count, but to rookies, they matter and they count," Griffin said. "We are looking forward to getting Corey back out there against Chicago and unleashing him and letting him do some things so he can feel confident going into the season. If he doesn't catch any balls, it is just a matter of going through the process of going through another game, preparing, getting ready.
"I think that mental side of it will take care of it because Corey's physical attributes – you see him out at practice, you see him in the game – the guy can flat out run and catch the ball."
The speed of the game provided a "wow" moment for Coleman, and he's been told by teammates it will be even faster when the regular season begins. Josh Gordon said he believes Coleman has what it takes to be a "dominant receiver" in the NFL.
It will just take more than the experience he got in 17 snaps at Tampa Bay to get a feel for the NFL. That process continues Thursday.
"He needs to go do it," Jackson said. "He has been very consistent in practice. He needs to go out and play the game this week on Thursday and then prepare himself for next week because the intensity and how things are played in the National Football League in the regular season is much different than preseason. I think we all respect that. He has some big challenges ahead of himself, but I think he will be up to the task."