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Freddie Kitchens on Antonio Callaway's struggles: 'I thought he was ready to go'

Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens took the blame for Antonio Callaway's struggles vs. the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.
Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway (11) drops a pass which San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams intercepted during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

With Antonio Callaway returning from a four-game suspension, Freddie Kitchens opted to give the wide receiver a regular workload.

It didn't take long for the Cleveland Browns head coach's decision to come back to bite him.

With 4:45 remaining in the second quarter and the Browns already trailing the 49ers by a score of 14-3, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield dropped back at the San Francisco 6-yard line and locked in on Callaway, who appeared uncovered and with plenty of room to waltz into the end zone. Mayfield's pass, however, careened off of Callaway's hands and into the hands of 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams, who turned the play into a 49-yard interception return.

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Yet despite the play clearly being the result of a lack of concentration from Callaway, Kitchens took the blame for the blunder, which ultimately resulted in a 14-point swing following a Tevin Coleman rushing touchdown.

"I think I put him in a bad situation," Kitchens said after the 49ers' 31-3 victory over the Browns. "I thought he was ready to go."

It appears that wasn't the case and for what it's worth, Callaway saw minimal playing time following his crucial drop. In what marked his first game since the end of his rookie season in 2018, the Florida product failed to record a single catch despite being targeted three times.

"Too much of a role? I don't know if I'd say that," Kitchens said when asked about Callaway's play on Monday. "I like to put our guys in a position to be successful and when they're not successful, that's on me.

"He wasn't successful tonight."

If the Browns are going to live up to the lofty expectations they found themselves facing entering the 2019 campaign, they're going to need that to change, especially with Rashard Higgins still sidelined with a knee injury. As Callaway showed last season, he's capable of taking the top off a defense, a skill that could prove even more potent now that he's lining up across from Odell Beckham Jr.

Now it's just a matter of him re-proving to Kitchens he's capable for such role.

"Ultimately everybody needs to do a better job of coaching and playing," Kitchens said.