The Browns hope rookie Antonio Callaway seizes the moment. They need him to.
"He doesn't have a choice," veteran receiver Jarvis Landry said. "He's definitely a guy that we're going to count on."
Indeed, Cleveland will lean on the young receiver after trading Josh Gordon to the New England Patriots on Monday. Callaway, at the very least, says he's up for the challenge.
"It's the National Football League," he said. "Got to step up."
Callaway demonstrated as much in Sunday's loss to the Saints. The former Florida standout and fourth-round pick caught three passes for 81 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown catch with 1:16 to play that would've given his team the lead had the extra point been made.
It was the kind of performance the Browns have been hoping for since taking something of a gamble on Callaway, a talented player who fell in the draft because of off-field issues and a 2017 suspension.
Still, general manager John Dorsey and Cleveland saw a young, talented and humbled 21-year-old who could thrive in the right environment. While Callaway, who grew up in one of Miami's toughest neighborhoods, slipped up during training camp — he was cited for marijuana possession and a suspended license — the Browns believe he knows what's at stake.
"Of course he realizes his opportunity," starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "Even when Josh was here, he realized he could be playing more, but of course, that role has definitely stepped up and it's gotten bigger for him now. He welcomes that opportunity."
Without Gordon, the former Pro Bowler whom the Browns parted ways with after six embattled seasons, Callaway should play a larger role in a new-look offense that includes Taylor and Landry. Both veterans see promise in their younger counterpart.
"He can make plays. Sunday was just a prime example of that," Landry said.
"Given more opportunities, I'm sure that he'll make more plays."
— Shortly after trading Gordon, the Browns signed veteran Rod Streater to add depth to a receivers room in flux. Streater, who enters his sixth season, spent the 2017 preseason with the Bills and got to know Taylor in the process.
"He's a leader. Being with the Bills, he took me in over there and helped me out. One of the first guys I seen when I got here was Tyrod in the weight room. You know working, and he's just a guy who grows on you and helps you get better," he said.
"I talked to him when I got here and said 'Hey man, you got to help me with these plays.' So I already got someone here who knows me and is on my side."
Streater has bounced around from team to team but had a career year in 2013 with the Raiders, catching 60 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (including 14 starts).
— Duke Johnson knows his opportunities will come. It's why the dynamic fourth-year running back isn't sweating what's been a lesser role in Cleveland's offense through two games. "That's not my job," he said. "My job is to perform, play football, and be a player. It's their job to figure everything else out."
Johnson, who was one of the few bright spots from the Browns' 2017 season, has had 23 touches for 35 all-purpose yards after amassing 1,041 yards last year. As Cleveland configures Johnson's role in a new-look offense, he'll continue to put his head down and work.
"If I don't have the ball then make sure I'm pass-protecting, blocking down the field, anything if they need me on special teams," he said. "Whatever it is, just trying to help win."
— Among a trio of recent former Browns, former running back Isaiah Crowell returns to FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday night for the first time as the member of another team. Crowell, who signed with the Jets in free agency after four years in Cleveland, has 22 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.
"Crow is definitely a fast and explosive runner," linebacker Joe Schobert said. "He has good balance. He can hit that one cut down hill, and if he gets that open space, he is hard to track and hard to bring down. Just have to make him stop his feet and not get a head of steam going." Crowell, quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor were all members of the Browns' 2016 team.