Rashard Higgins increases workload at Thursday’s practice, eyes potential return vs. Seahawks - News & Notes

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said WR Rashard Higgins increased his workload at Thursday’s practice and looked even closer to his normal self. 

Higgins hasn’t seen the field since suffering a knee injury in the first half of Cleveland’s season opener. He caught two passes in that game, including a 35-yarder that set up the Browns’ first touchdown of 2019.

“Higgins looked better,” Kitchens said. “We will see where we are at the end of the week. With some of these things, you just have to see how they are the next day and see how they respond to what they did today from a physical standpoint.”

Injured CBs Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward (hamstrings) “did a little bit more” and participated in a few plays during the first period of practice, Kitchens said. Neither has played since Week 2.

“When they are ready to play, they will play, but we definitely factor in that the bye is coming up,” Kitchens said. “We are trying to put our best foot forward this week and do what we can this week to compete at a high level.”

Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Seahawks Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey

-- An injury put Jarvis Landry on the field as a punt returner Week 1, and he hasn’t ceded the position in the weeks that followed.

The Browns have a number of other options at the position, though, and that was made apparent Monday when Odell Beckham Jr. fielded a punt in the fourth quarter in an attempt to give the Browns a “spark.” Ultimately, Beckham fumbled but he remains a player Cleveland can summon at any point to field punts, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said.

“We have a bunch of different options back there,” Priefer said. “Depending on the time of game, who is fresh and who is ready to roll because they are all being trained to do it like they have been since the spring. We just have to make sure that we have the right guy out there at the right spot.”

Dontrell Hilliard opened the season as Cleveland’s punt returner but was sidelined with a concussion and hasn’t returned to the spot. Beckham’s punt return Monday was his first since he fielded eight last season with the Giants. Running back D’Ernest Johnson and wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who made his 2019 debut Monday after serving a four-game suspension, are also capable.

The Browns are seventh in the league with an average of 10 yards per return, but Priefer said he hasn’t liked the production of the past few weeks. Cleveland’s been able to return just six punts on the season.

“We have to go out and execute our assignments,” Priefer said. “We have to block better. We have to make good decisions at the return position. We have to go out and make a play. We have to give our offense great field position or even score because that is what I am used to and the guys I have been around are used to.”

-- Beckham connected with Landry on the first play of Monday’s game, taking the ball in the backfield and firing a laser to his best friend for a 20-yard gain. It was the first time Beckham and Landry had ever come together in that fashion on the football field -- in a game that counted, of course.

“In practice (at LSU) but not in the game, though,” Landry said. “We tried, we tried. It did not work out."

Adding to the play’s significance, it was the 500th reception of Landry’s career, making him just the fourth player in NFL history to do so in 85 games or fewer. Landry said he wasn’t aware of it until a couple of days later.

“What a way to do it. What a way to do it,” Landry said. “Huge."

Beckham appreciated the significance of the moment, a throw he made as a result of the eye contact Landry made with him as he rolled to the right. In hindsight, though, Beckham regretted it. A film review of the play showed Callaway wide open deep down the field.

“That’s what we had drawn it up for,” Beckham said. “You never know how the game would have went. I look at that and I look at the momentum could have been completely different.”

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