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Antonio Callaway working his way back into shape

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Second-year wide receiver’s old-school approach to fitness costing him first-team reps in training camp.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Training Camp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway is apparently taking an old-school approach to training camp.

Back in the days of yore in the NFL, players had to work jobs in the off-season, which cut into their time to stay fit. So when training camp and the preseason rolled around, the players would use that time to sweat out months of sitting behind a desk and work their bodies back into shape.

Callaway appears to be a proponent of that strategy as, for the second consecutive year, he reported to training camp in less than ideal shape, as offensive coordinator Todd Monken revealed on Thursday, per clevelandbrowns.com:

“... hell, he came in a little bit out of shape probably. The last seven days, he is getting himself back in shape, putting himself in position. I can’t tell you what (wide receivers coach) Adam (Henry) says to him, but you can see and I am sure he feels it, as well. That is a tough part with the way collective bargaining is that you bring him back and you work and then you let him go. You have five or six weeks and then you come back. Luckily, he has not pulled anything.”

While Callaway has been working to lose those last few pounds, wide receivers Rashard Higgins and Derrick Willies have been busy building chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield and working to claim whatever passes do not go to wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

It is not all doom and gloom, however, as Callaway is regaining the form that he showed at times as a rookie, when he caught 43 passes and averaged 13.6 yards per reception, according to Monken:

“You can see that in starting to feel more comfortable and makes plays so I really like him. He really has tremendous upside. We all know that. You guys saw it last year. He is explosive. He has really good down the field ball tracking ability. There is a lot to like there. It is just he is still a very young player in this league to go from a skill player to a wide receiver. He is still developing himself as a wide receiver and developing the trust with the quarterbacks.”

There is still plenty of time for Callaway to get into game shape before the regular season starts in September and there is little risk of him losing his roster spot.

But on a Browns offense that has numerous options and is working to join the league’s elite units, it would probably be in Callaway’s best interest if he started to take his off-season conditioning a bit more seriously.