Before taking the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, the Cleveland Browns cut ties with second-year wide receiver Antonio Callaway — a move that in some respects seemed long overdue.
Callaway started the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and shortly after the Browns cut him, it was revealed he was fighting another failed test for what was reportedly a tainted CBD product.
Callaway lost his appeal and was banned for 10 games, effectively ending the chance of him catching on with another team this season and possibly beyond.
However, the trouble with Callaway started before the latest suspension news.
He was inactive in the team’s win against the Bills and the reported reason for Callaway being benched was that he arriving late to the game, in part because he parked in a different lot than usual, according to Cleveland.com.
Browns Not Missing Antonio Callaway
After returning from his suspension, Callaway slid into the No. 3 wide receiver role, with head coach Freddie Kitchens saying he was simply playing better than Rashard Higgins, who fans were clamoring for.
Callaway quickly fell out of favor and never truly made an impact. His most memorable play of the season was a disastrous drop at the goal line against the 49ers that bounced into a defender’s hands and swung the momentum of the game.
Callaway had just eight catches for 89 yards. In his career, he had 51 catches for 675 and five touchdowns.
When asked on Thursday about what kind of effect the release of Callaway would effect the offense, Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken didn’t waste any words.
“None,” he said.
Monken didn’t expand further on the question, but head coach Freddie Kitchens had some things to say about Callaway no longer being with the Browns.
“Unfortunately, Antonio did not do the things that I or we expect out of him on and off the field,” Kitchens said. “I like Antonio a lot. I wish nothing but the best for Antonio moving forward.”
Who Can Handle the No. 3 Wide Receiver Role For Browns?
The thought when Callaway was sat and then released was the Rashard Higgins would have a bigger role in the offense. While a highlight was his game-winning touchdown catch against the Bills, that’s been his only catch the last two weeks and he played just 28 snaps last week.
Kitchens left it wide open in terms of who could slide into the role.
“I think we have four or five guys there that can take over that role,” Kitchens told reporters. “They have done a good job of it up to this point. I think it will continue.”
KhaDarel Hodge has been a Browns player to see an uptick in opportunity recently. His biggest play of the season was a 41-yard snag last week against the Steelers.
“He knows what to do, knows how to and knows when to do it,” Kitchens said. “He made a big play in the game the other day, which was good to see that he can take it from the practice field to the game field. We saw a lot of things on the practice field like we saw in the game the other day.”