BEREA, OHIO - Despite using four draft picks on the position a year ago, the Cleveland Browns have still seemed to possess a deficiency at wide receiver through the first two weeks of training camp.
One of those four wideouts picked, however, is doing his part to change that perception.
No, it's not 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman, who despite maintaining his starting status has been inconsistent at best in his second training camp with the Browns. On Tuesday, Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson conceded Coleman had been hampered by a "slow start" in camp and is just now beginning to round into game shape.
Rather, the receiver who flashed the most potential in Berea on Tuesday was Ricardo Louis, who the Browns selected in the fourth round a year ago. Louis made the play of the day with a diving 40-yard grab on a pass from quarterback Brock Osweiler in 11-on-11s, before snagging a one-handed 2-yard touchdown catch from the first-string signal-caller in the same scrimmage session.
“He is making plays," Jackson said of Louis after practice. "Ball was in the air, and he has to go dominate the ball. He made some plays today.”
That's a departure from the Auburn product's rookie season, when he recorded 18 catches for 205 yards and no touchdowns in 16 games. In particular, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound pass-catcher seemed to struggle to hold onto the ball, hauling in just 51.4 percent of the 35 passes he was targeted on a year ago.
That, however, no longer appears to be as big of an issue for Louis, with Browns coaches praising both the work the former 4-star prospect has put in off the field and the improvement he's shown on it. That's led to a more confident version of Louis, who's begun to separate himself as the clear-cut No. 3 wideout on Cleveland's roster, behind Coleman and free agent acquisition Kenny Britt.
“I’m just a lot more confident in knowing what I have and command of the offense,” Louis said in minicamp. “I know the offense a lot more now than I did last year so once I hear the play and I know exactly what to do, I can play even faster because the DB doesn’t know what I am going to do, so they can’t stop me.”
Given the Browns' depth -- or lack thereof -- at wide receiver around him, a breakout season for Louis could be crucial for an offense lacking in young playmakers.
And if Coleman can also reach his potential -- well, let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. But perhaps Cleveland may not need to take four receivers in a single draft again anytime soon.
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