The Cleveland Browns are mixing things up at wide receiver in an unexpected way.
Antonio Callaway, who has functioned mostly as the Browns No. 3 wide receiver this year, is among the players who will be inactive Sunday as the team takes on the Buffalo Bills. He has not been on the injury report this week, so the move figures to be a coach’s decision.
Callaway has just 8 catches for 89 yards this season — 41 of that coming on one play.
In his absence, Rashard Higgins — one of the biggest question marks of the Browns season — will slide into a bigger role. Higgins started the season third on the depth chart, but a sprained MCL he suffered in the team’s opener against the Titans set him back. He’s been targeted just three times since returning to the lineup.
Higgins had 39 catches for 572 yards and 4 touchdowns last season — all career highs. Callaway had similar stats, collecting 586 yards and 5 touchdowns. However, both players play very differently, with Higgins being a very cerebral, crisp route runner and Callaway relying more on his speed.
Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, defensive end Olivier Vernon, safety Eric Murray, offensive lineman Kendall Lamm, wide receiver Taywan Taylor and cornerback Robert Jackson will also be inactive for the Browns.
Cleveland will get safety Damarious Randall back after he missed two games with a hamstring injury. The team will also have former Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt available, as he’s done serving his 8-game suspension.
Antonio Callaway Served 4-Game Suspension to Start Year
Callaway started the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
The Browns selected Callaway out of Florida in the fourth round last year with the 105th overall pick. He was a controversial choice, having a spotty history with the Gators.
Callaway released a statement through the Browns shortly after the news broke of his suspension.
“I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a mistake and I own that. I have taken the steps to make myself better and I appreciate the Browns standing by me and supporting me during this time. I know there’s nothing I can say to regain trust; it will all be about my actions.”
Browns general manager John Dorsey also responded to the news, noting that he wanted Callaway to take advantage of all the resources provided to him.
“We’re disappointed in Antonio. Freddie (Kitchens) and i have had a direct conversation with him about where we stand,” Dorsey said in a statement. “He Understands our expectations of him. We will continue to support him as long as he remains committed to taking advantage of the resources made available to him by our club and the league to help him become the best version of himself as a person first and foremost.”
Browns Frustrated Rashard Higgins not Involved More
The Browns staff has addressed Higgins’ lack of role in the offense various times this season, but offensive coordinator Todd Monken gave the strongest statement to date on what he wants to see out of the fourth-year wide receiver while speaking to the media on Thursday.
“First off, it is tough for Rashard just the way the year started and in terms of I thought had a really good preseason and camp, then had a real good start to the year and then he got hurt,” Monken said. “I would not say it was a setback, but it certainly does not help when you are not practicing and you are not out there.”
Higgins has been mostly quiet about the situation, but will have an opportunity to prove he deserves a bigger role against the Bills.