The Cleveland Browns have relied on wide receiver Jarvis Landry through the first quarter of the season, with 32 percent of the team’s pass attempts targeted toward the veteran receiver.
Landry has responded as he leads the Browns in receptions (24) and yards (312) and, perhaps just as important, is averaging 13 yards per reception — which would be a career best for the fifth-year player.
The Browns are going to need more than Landry, however, if they want to keep the offense humming along under rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, and rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway should be an obvious choice.
Callaway flashed his talent in Sunday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders when he turned a slant pass into a 59-yard gain. The flip side is that Callaway finished the game with just three receptions for 54 yards even though he was targeted nine times on the day.
Mayfield finds Callaway for a 59-yard gain! pic.twitter.com/9Aqp7hm02k— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 30, 2018
That type of inconsistency is not exactly uncommon in a rookie, but it may lead to Callaway finding himself on the sidelines a bit more come game day.
Head coach Hue Jackson alluded to that possibility when he met with the media on Tuesday, saying that having Callaway take a step back may help him take a big step forward in the passing game, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“I think maybe limiting sometimes the number of snaps that a player has to play. We are going to have to depend on Antonio. He is going to have to make plays for us as we go as you just mentioned. We are not going to shy away from that, but maybe not playing as many plays as he plays in a game will help him get to step back, take a look, take a blow come back and do it again.”
It will be interesting to see if Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley decide to go down that route.
Reducing Callaway’s playing time could mean that the Browns would have to rely on veteran Rod Streater, a neutral option at best, or rookie Damion Ratley, who is even more unproven than Callaway.
Of course, if it opens up more opportunities for running back Duke Johnson, that is never a bad thing.
In the long run, if working to get the game to slow down a bit for Callaway helps him become a more consistent receiver, then that is an idea that Browns fans can get behind as the raw talent is certainly there.
Hopefully it doesn’t take too long for him to get his game back up to speed.