Corey Coleman says he gets it.
The Browns wide receiver understands this season — his third with Cleveland since being drafted 15th overall in 2016 — will be a big one for him. Such is life as a former first-round pick and the expectations that accompany such status.
"It's time to take a big step," Coleman said Thursday as the Browns opened training camp. "I feel like it's important."
Indeed, Coleman enters what new offensive coordinator Todd Haley described as a sink-or-swim type of season. After two years marred by injuries and other dynamics, the speedy receiver has yet to emerge as a consistent playmaker for Cleveland, partly because of back-to-back broken hands that sidelined him for 13 games in his first two seasons.
Coleman believes his best ability starts with availability. "I've been hurt a lot, can't control that. That's really the main thing. Just haven't played a full season," he said. "It's tough for guys to play half a season and come back. You know, I start off, have a great season, miss two months, start over from the beginning. I feel amazing right now."
In Haley's offensive system armed with newcomers in veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor and three-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, there's optimism that Coleman — who has 56 catches for 718 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons — could thrive with a stronger supporting cast around him. It also means, however, he'll need to compete with Landry, Josh Gordon (who's on an indefinite leave of absence), rookie receivers Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley and others to earn his keep.
"Coach Todd Haley, we talked about what he expects from me," Coleman said, "and I'll come out here and I'm going to practice hard each and every day."
Coleman has also taken steps off the field to get his body right. At the behest of Landry, he started eating a healthier diet, trading chicken wings for fish and many other adjustments. First-year wide receivers coach Adam Henry also sees an attentive student in the meeting rooms.
"He comes in early. He works hard. He's taking notes," said Henry, who has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense, tough-love position coach. "He's doing the little things, just learning the route techniques and things of that nature,"
In what was among the most painful images of Cleveland's 2017 winless season, Coleman dropped a pass on fourth down late in the game that could've helped the Browns rally to victory. While he won't allow it to shake him, he took the moment to heart. "It motivated me. I shut it down," he said. "Every receiver drops balls, you know, but it motivated me to get better."
His head coach echoed a similar sentiment.
"We've talked about it, but it's behind him. There are some really good players that have played in this league that have dropped some very critical balls at very critical times," Hue Jackson said. "You don't want that to happen, but hopefully, he will grow from that and learn from that. I think that Corey is into Year 3 of his professional career and he knows that it is time for him to play better and to make plays for the organization. "
Draft status no longer matters. Coleman knows he'll have to prove it on the field.
"I still have to show," he said. "Each year, everyone has to show if they can be a big-time receiver in the NFL."