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Browns wide receivers coach Al Saunders: Compares Duke Johnson to a Queen on a chessboard

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The veteran coach talks about all of the team’s young receivers, the pitch count on Corey Coleman, and the versatility of Duke Johnson.

Prior to Day 11 of Cleveland Browns training camp, the team made wide receivers coach/senior offensive assistant Al Saunders and defensive backs/safeties coach Jerod Kruse available to the media.

Below is a recap of some of the things that Saunders had to say on Tuesday, and then we’ll get to Kruse’s comments in a separate post.

Al Saunders

  • He called WR Ricardo Louis, WR Rashard Higgins, and WR Jordan Payton all developmental players last year, but he couldn’t be happier with how they’ve conducted themselves this offseason:

“Ricardo Louis is just a different guy. He is playing with speed. His routes are better. His technique is better. The same can be said for Rashard. Rashard has done a tremendous job in his ability to change direction and understand the offense. Those guys are playing two or three positions. Jordan has done a much better job in terms of his acceleration and the techniques that he is using. ... Now, we are going to play some real football so we will see if what they have done from this point will go ahead and translate into their performance on the field against New Orleans.”

  • As far as the wide receiver depth chart goes, Saunders would not reveal what the wide receiver order would be after Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman get their reps against the Saints. In fact, as of Tuesday morning, Saunders said he and head coach Hue Jackson had not finalized it yet.

“It depends on what quarterbacks are going in the game. We will match up with the quarterbacks. We did a little bit of that yesterday, we will do some of that today, and we will make those final decisions [Wednesday].”

  • When asked about the development of WR Corey Coleman, Saunders stressed his improvement in understanding the offense and in technique. But he also made a point to mention that they have had Coleman on a pitch count, presumably to reduce the chances of him sustaining another hamstring injury:

“The thing we had to do with Corey was make sure that he would be able to be physically able go on a day-to-day basis. He has been on what we would call a pitch count. There are only so many reps he can take during a team-work environment or 7-on-7. Corey has come a long way. He has come a long way in understanding the offense. He has come a long way in his techniques. He has come a long way in just understanding the principles of the receiver position as they apply to the National Football League. It has been good for him to practice. As the weeks come on, he will be able to practice more and more at a higher speed and a higher volume. The more practice you get, the better player you are in all phases of your skills.”

  • Regarding veteran WR Kenny Britt, he praised his physical nature. He also said that these past two days were necessary for QB Brock Osweiler so that he could build some chemistry and rhythm with the top guys before Thursday.
  • RB Duke Johnson has spent a lot of time with the receivers this camp, and Saunders said, “I think he’s going to be a dynamic player in this league because of his versatility.”