BEREA, Ohio--This hasn't been the type of season the Browns and Corey Coleman had hoped for from the rookie from Baylor.
The Browns first round draft pick (15th overall) showed promise in training camp with a couple spectacular catches in the team's first scrimmage. However, he injured his hamstring in the process and missed much of training camp.
Coleman was ready for the season opener against the Eagles and had a big play, a 58-yard catch from Robert Griffin III. In the second game, against the Ravens, Coleman started to emerge as the big play threat he was expected to be. He caught two touchdown passes from Josh McCown in the first quarter against the Ravens of 31- and 11-yards and finished the game with five receptions for 104 yards, including two touchdowns. He was named the NFL's Pepsi Rookie Player of the Week.
Then another setback.
Coleman fractured a bone in his hand in practice the following week and missed the next six games. Since the game against the Ravens, Coleman has been held to an average of three catches for 41.5 yards without a score in his other four games.
“I can only control what I can control,” Coleman said Wednesday. “So it has been difficult, but we’re fighting through it and it has to get better. It can’t get any worse.”
The Browns are still looking for their first win, but they are also looking for more of an explosive offense. They are averaging just 16.7 points per game and are 29th in the NFL in total offense with 311.1 yards a game. Their passing game is 27th at 218.1 yards a game.
Coleman has played with three different starting quarterbacks in his limited playing time and admitted it has been an adjustment. “Everyone’s got a different touch to the ball and everyone throws the ball different,” he said. “So it’s kind of difficult. But I’ve just got to keep on working.”
Hue Jackson said Coleman has to keep improving to reach his potential.
“He just has to keep getting better and his unit has to play better,” Jackson said. “Our whole unit has to play better to give him a chance to showcase his talent and ability.”
Last week, Coleman had four receptions for 39 yards against the Steelers. He had a dropped pass that helped stop the first drive, a high pass from rookie Cody Kessler also went off his hands and he was the target on a deep interception by Kessler in which Steelers cornerback Artie Burns was able to get better position to get the ball.
“It happens and it’s all about how you respond,” he said.
Jackson has seen some positives in Coleman's game, but also some negatives.
“Some of those things will happen from time to time, talking about the drops,” Jackson said. “He made a couple of tremendous plays. He went up and made a play on the ball that I don’t think a lot of people could make. Then the hit that he took to catch the ball across the middle, that is how you display toughness. There are a lot of people that will not get that ball, and he did.
“He is a competitive guy and likes playing," he said. "He wants to help contribute to his offense, to the team and to everybody. I like Corey. Corey has a bright future here.”
Coleman's best catch against Pittsburgh was a jump ball on the play in which Kessler was concussed. Coleman leaped in traffic for a 16-yard reception that started the lone touchdown drive.
“If the ball’s thrown to me, it’s supposed to be my job to catch the football,” he said.
Josh McCown was Coleman’s quarterback for the breakout performance in Week 2 against the Ravens. He’ll be back at quarterback this week in place of Kessler and hopes to get Coleman back on track.
“We think he will continue to grow, and we have a ton of trust in him that when we get the ball in his hands he is going to make plays,” McCown said. “He is certainly a guy that I am always aware of and know where he is and want to be able to get him the ball.”
“I am," he said. "I am frustrated to be honest with you because we have always hung our hat on being a return team. We are still going to do that. The guys are working hard. I am still seeing signs. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities.
"The balls are going out of the end zone. (Steelers K Chris) Boswell, I think those were really mishits on those squibs and that disrupts some things," he said. "Those kicks, you are hoping to get passed the 20, and we did a decent job there. Just with regards to coming out and pressing the coverage, we haven’t had a lot of opportunities there. Hopefully, we will these last few games as the weather changes.”