On Sunday, Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins suffered an MCL sprain that will sideline him for the next 2-4 games.
That injury allowed undrafted rookie Derrick Willies to get an opportunity and he made the most of that opportunity with 3 catches for 61 yards in Cleveland’s overtime victory over Baltimore including a 39-yard catch and run in the final two minutes that got the Browns into opponent’s territory before Greg Joseph made the game-winning field goal.
Now just days later, Willies suffered an injury in Thursday’s practice that ended up being diagnosed as a fractured collarbone. He’s been ruled out for Sunday’s game against Los Angeles and it’s unclear right now how long he’ll be out of action.
This puts the wide receiver position thin for the moment as there’s only four healthy wide receivers at the moment:
- Jarvis Landry
- Antonio Callaway
- Rod Streater
- Damion Ratley
Landry is the team’s leading receiver with 29 catches for 381 yards and a touchdown.
Callaway has shown flashes of his potential with 13 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown but his hands have been inconsistent.
Streater signed with the Browns following the trade of Josh Gordon and has appeared in two games and hasn’t seen much playing time besides the second half last week. He has 127 catches over his six-year career with Cleveland, San Francisco and Oakland.
Ratley was the team’s sixth-round pick out of Texas A&M and has only appeared in two games this season.
Obviously all four receivers will be active for Sunday’s game with Ratley getting his first significant load of playing time when it looked like the team was just planning on easing him in with his development.
Also look for the Browns to potentially utilize Duke Johnson more in the passing game. Johnson spoke publicly about how his role on offense has diminished under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, averaging just five offensive touches per game compared to the ten touches per game in 2017.
Johnson is arguably Cleveland’s second best receiver on the roster behind Landry. He has 198 catches in four seasons with at least 53 catches per season from 2015-2017.
Once Higgins returns from his injury, the Browns will likely look to adding another wide receiver to the roster as an insurance policy considering Willies should be out for a few weeks.
Cleveland worked out veteran receiver Rishard Matthews earlier in the week but he didn’t sign with the team nor did he sign with Arizona which he worked out with on Tuesday.
There is also people still clamoring for the Browns to sign Dez Bryant but it seems as though he’s focused more on his social media workout videos and criticizing his former team’s comments then he is about contributing to an NFL team in 2018.