He’s not the tallest WR on the field, and not the fastest either, but he is a professional receiver. He understands the offense, and sees what the defense is doing. He runs great routes and finds a way to get open enough for the quarterback to get the ball to him.
At least four times in the last two days of camp quarterback Josh McCown has been able to get Hartline the ball in the end zone, and against the top corners the Browns have. More than just those red zone completions though, Hartline and McCown are on the same page. They seem to be developing a chemistry.
“We are getting some good work in and getting a feel for each other,” said Hartline on working with McCown. “I am doing what I am told. He is doing what he is told. When we have some errors we will talk it out, so hopefully we don't do it again.”
The receivers have been raving about Josh McCown all camp long. Hartline seems impressed with the 13 year veteran as well, and especially how easy he makes things for receivers.
“It’s a very favorable ball to catch. He throws a great football, it’s easy on you,” Hartline commented on Thursday after practice. “He’s fun to play with. You guys see him how he communicates out there, and he’s talking to everybody and getting things situated, so he definitely makes it easy on a lot of other guys.”
Browns coach Mike Pettine sees a chemistry developing between McCown and Hartline, but gives much of the credit for that to the former Buckeye WR.
"He is but that's who Brian is, that's who he's been,” said Pettine on the chemistry being developed. “As I mentioned before, when I was in New York it was always –all this guy does is get open and catch the ball other than that he's not very good. He continues to prove that here. Ultimate professional, comes out and works every day. I think he has great body control. His catch radius is tremendous and he's a veteran, he just knows how to get open, he understand it."
No matter who has been Hartline’s quarterback, (Hartline has caught passes from six different starters in his career) Brian has a pretty simple philosophy about playing wide receiver in the NFL.
“Be the guy that just doesn’t make mistakes because you’re a hard guy to get rid of.”
That’s the advice Hartline has been passing on to the young receivers in camp.
“If you don’t make mistakes, it’s hard to get rid of a guy or move on from him or stop giving him opportunities,” Hartline said. “Every day is important. A lot of times in this game it’s kinda who screws up less sometimes who wins the game. Every time you look at the game there’s always one, two, three plays that defines a win or a loss, and the good teams just don’t have those repetitively.”
This group of Browns pass catchers would be wise to heed that advice. Someone who is in camp and making plays is bound to get cut.
“There’s a lot of guys that are competing for probably a few spots. I can’t say enough about those guys, Darius (Jennings) is getting a lot better, (Shane) Wynn’s getting better, (Josh) Lenz is always making plays. I think special teams will probably be a big part of it. They all work hard, they all want to get better, they’re always feasting for knowledge and asking questions. It’s still early, but a lot of guys are doing a lot of good things.”
Terrelle Pryor is one of those pushing for a spot on the roster, and Hartline has been impressed with Pryor’s transition, but knows there is still much more work to be done.
“I think being healthy is important. He’s just gotta keep rehabbing and get back on the field,” Hartline said of the former QB turned WR. “He had a good couple days of getting acquainted, there’s a lot of things he was working on, but that kind of comes to a halt when you’re dinged up a little bit. He’s asking a lot of questions in the meeting rooms, he’s hitting all the walk-throughs and meetings.”
Hartline, Pryor and Donte Whitner are all Buckeyes who will be returning to Ohio State on Friday night when the Browns scrimmage at Ohio Stadium.
“It’ll be cool to be back in there, for me it’s just closer to home, I live in Columbus so it’ll be cool to grab some dinner and see everybody and then get back in the Shoe for some fun,” said Hartline on going back for the scrimmage. “I kinda wish they would open it up for everybody to fill it, but I understand all the logistics that go with all that. Looking forward to seeing a great crowd and compete and have some fun. Looking forward to it.”
Pryor will not participate in the scrimmage with his hamstring injury. You can bet Hartline will put on a show for the hometown crowd.