Browns’ wide re­ceiver woes con­tinue

Jack­son con­sid­ers bench­ing Britt, but the cup­board is bare of a re­place­ment

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - Jeff Schudel

The de­ci­sion by the Browns to ig­nore wide re­ceiver in the 2017 draft, and even af­ter the draft when teams en­gage in a free-for-all to sign un­drafted rook­ies, is al­ready haunt­ing them.

Coach Hue Jack­son is toy­ing with the idea of bench­ing un­re­li­able Kenny Britt for the game against the Ravens on Sept. 17 in Bal­ti­more, but he might be forced to start Britt. The only other pos­si­bil­ity would be start­ing sec­ond-year player Ri­cardo Louis, but Louis hasn’t done enough in his short ca­reer to merit start­ing.

Britt should not feel vin­di­cated if he does start for the 0-1 Browns against the 1-0 Ravens. It would be like boast­ing about be­ing one of the tallest guys in a 5-foot-5 and un­der bas­ket­ball league.

Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Foot­ball Op­er­a­tions Sashi Brown, ob­vi­ously re­al­iz­ing af­ter the pre­sea­son just how de­fi­cient his wide re­ceivers were, traded with the Steel­ers for Sam­mie Coates on Sept. 2 and claimed

Reg­gie Davis and Kasen Wil­liams off waivers the next day.

Brown was asked af­ter the draft why he ig­nored line­backer and wide re­ceiver — es­pe­cially wide re­ceiver be­cause the Browns let Ter­relle Pryor go to the Red­skins in free agency.

“We feel good about both po­si­tions,” Brown said. “We ob­vi­ously have young guys at each spot.”

Just as ob­vi­ously, quan-

tity does not equal qual­ity. The Browns drafted four wide re­ceivers last year — Corey Cole­man, Louis, Rashard Hig­gins and Jor­dan Pay­ton — and only Cole­man and Louis re­main.

All kinds of bad things hap­pen when the re­ceivers are in­fe­rior, es­pe­cially when a rookie quar­ter­back is throw­ing them the ball. They take too long to get open, re­sult­ing in DeShone Kizer hold­ing the ball too long, which re­sults in Kizer get­ting sacked, which could ul­ti­mately re­sult in Kizer get­ting in­jured, which would ul­ti­mately re­sult in Kevin

Ho­gan be­com­ing No. 28 in the pa­rade of Browns start­ing quar­ter­backs.

Cole­man, the first re­ceiver cho­sen in the 2016 draft (15th over­all) has good chem­istry with Kizer. The har­mony be­tween Kizer and Louis is im­prov­ing, but Kizer and the three new re­ceivers are not yet in sync. That was ob­vi­ous in the opener when Kizer missed con­nec­tions with Wil­liams down the right side­line.

It doesn’t help that rookie right end David Njoku is de­vel­op­ing more slowly than ex­pected, but that isn’t a to­tal sur­prise

since Njoku started only nine games in two years at Miami.

The chem­istry be­tween Kizer and his re­ceivers isn’t likely to im­prove dra­mat­i­cally against Bal­ti­more. The Ravens shut out the Ben­gals, 20-0, in the opener and picked off Cincin­nati quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton four times.

Fans are al­ready won­der­ing what is wrong with Isa­iah Crow­ell and the run of­fense. Crow­ell car­ried 17 times for 33 yards in the opener last week — not ex­actly the way he en­vi­sioned launch­ing his con­tract year.

It is eas­ier to de­fend the run when teams don’t have to worry much about de­fend­ing the pass.

There is no quick fix to this prob­lem Jack­son is try­ing to solve. Just re­mem­ber — when you see Kizer ap­pear to over­throw his re­ceivers on deep routes or heave the ball out of harm’s way out of bounds, if his re­ceivers can’t get sep­a­ra­tion, a throw­away beats risk­ing an in­ter­cep­tion ev­ery time.

Reach Schudel at JSchudel@NewsHer­ald.com. On Twit­ter: @jsproin­sider

DAVID RICHARD — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Browns’ pass­ing game will have some grow­ing pains while re­ceivers and tight ends, in­clud­ing first-round pick David Njoku, de­velop.

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