Cleveland Browns receiver Ricardo Louis isn’t lacking confidence as he prepares for his second NFL season. And that confidence has come, he says, due to the improvements he has made since his rookie season.
“I have definitely taken a step forward. Commanding the offense a lot more, playing a lot faster, getting a lot more reps and just perfecting my craft,” Louis said during a media availability prior to participating in the team’s three-day mandatory June minicamp.
He also took the camera time to put defensive backs on notice.
“This spring I’m coming off the ball a lot faster. I’m able to use my speed to scare the DBs, you know give them fear,” Louis said. “My route running is a lot more advanced than it was last year as far as changing directions, coming out of breaks and creating separation.”
Those improvements are due to his better understanding of the team’s offense after having valuable practice and playing time as a rookie. And he’ll continue to get those opportunities if his confidence turns into production on the field this summer.
Before we find out, he’ll still be working hard to prepare himself as best as possible. As we know, the Browns drafted multiple receivers last season and playing time at the position is more-or-less up in the air as its offense heads into its second season under head coach Hue Jackson.
To prepare for a training camp competition, Louis just scored some workouts with Brandon Marshall as a result of a message he sent to him on Instagram. Marshall’s response was unexpected, he said, especially considering how long ago he reached out to the Pro Bowl receiver.
“It’s a funny story,” Louis said on Tuesday. “I had actually, I think about a year and a half ago, sent him a message on Instagram. I was looking for advice ‘cause moving to receiver was kind of tough. So I had to find somebody who could help me figure it out.”
The position switch Louis, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, is talking about was his move to receiver at Auburn University after most of his prior experience was playing quarterback. In four years as an Auburn Tiger, he finished with 98 catches for 1,338 yards and eight touchdowns.
“So I hit him up, and actually last week,” Louis said. “He hit me back after a year and a half. He was like, ‘Sorry, I just saw it.’”
Louis and Marshall will work out and train together during the month-plus they have off leading up to their respective teams’ training camps in late July.
Whatever Louis can glean from Marshall this summer will be a great help for the young receiver. His build and speed combination are very similar to that of the 6-time Pro Bowler’s, so the pairing appears to be a solid match.
If Louis can harness his speed and turn it into the fear he’s hoping to put in the minds of defenses, he may even end up sniffing Marshall’s career trajectory. There’s a lot that needs to happen before then, though, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The level of effort and improvement necessary for him to make that type of leap — catching the ball, for one thing — is very, very high. But it’s encouraging to see the youngster’s rising confidence and the work he’s putting in to get there.