After Tuesday's practice, Nate Burleson was asked if his rhythm was off with Brian Hoyer.
"It wasn't – he threw me a touchdown today," said Burleson with a smile.
A nagging hamstring injury has kept Burleson out the entire preseason and off the practice field for nearly three weeks. Browns head coach Mike Pettine said the team remains optimistic the veteran receiver can suit up and prove himself Thursday against the Bears.
Burleson has been itching to play, and was practically begging for the trainers to let him suit up against the Redskins and the Rams. The veteran has played through injuries for a large portion of his career. Even if Burleson isn't exactly close to 100 percent, he still thinks he can make plays against Chicago.
"I don't want to seem cocky, but I pride myself on moving the chains over my career," said Burleson. "Being a productive third down target. Being very good in the red zone. So that's what I plan to do – being a sure pair of hands and make some splash plays that's going to ignite the offense and the team.
"I'm not going to downplay my skills: I'm here to make a difference; I'm not here to blend in."
Before he injured his arm last season, Burleson was averaging 6.5 catches and 79 yards per game with the Lions. He knows he still has the physical tools to be a player Cleveland can count on. Burleson said the time away from the practice field actually made him soak up the playbook even more, and started translating right away.
"After today, I realized I digested a lot of the information," said Burleson. "The physical part, after 12 years of football, I'm good with that. It's more about the mental part and I really tackled that the last couple of weeks."
Even if Burleson's prior achievements are some of the most accomplished on the roster, he knows nothing is guaranteed.
"I don't care what your resume is: you always have to work," said Burleson. "That's the nature of the business. I understand how the game works. As far as being worried about it? Nah, I can't control what's out of my hands. What I can control is who I am when I show up for work. And what I do when I'm on the field.
"This is a what have you done for me lately league. I can watch as many YouTube highlights of myself, but what I did today and what I'm going to do tomorrow is going to have a more profound effect than my resume."