Browns Bring in Former Saints Pass-Catcher Amid Injuries

Easop Winston

Getty Images The Browns have signed WR Easop Winston.

The Cleveland Browns added a new name to their wide receiver room on Tuesday, claiming former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Easop Winston.

The Browns officially announced the move on Tuesday. Winston was originally signed with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2020 before joining the Saints last season. He appeared in three games, catching just one pass for five yards and returned 10 punts for 119 yards after spending majority of the season on the club’s practice squad.

The signing of Winston comes amid injuries at the wide receiver position for the Browns, notably to KR/WR Jakeem Grant. He was lost for the year with a torn Achilles and the two-time All-Pro return man was a big loss for the Browns’ special teams unit.

Cleveland has tried out some options to fill his role, including receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones, Travell Harris, safety Ronnie Harrison and swiss army knife Demetric Felton, who is currently listed as the starter on the Browns depth chart. Winston figures to play a part in filling that hole if he makes the final cut.

The Browns are also working without Michael Woods II, who tweaked his hamstring last week ahead of the Browns first preseason game. The sixth-round pick was having a strong camp and was expected to play a role in the rotation.

Anthony Schwartz Seeking Bounce Back

Anthony Schwartz: "The energy goes up during joint practices" | Press ConferencesAnthony Schwartz addresses the media on August 16, 2022. #BrownsMedia #PressConferences2022-08-16T17:15:18Z

The Browns are expecting former third-round pick Anthony Schwartz to make a jump this season and contribute more in the passing game. Schwartz caught just 10 passes for a total of 135 yards and one touchdown during his rookie season.

Schwartz dealt with a knee injury during camp but suited up for the first preseason tilt against Jacksonville. Things did not go well for the speedy pass-catcher, with a pair of drops being his only registered stats during the game.

“Things did not go the way that we planned to and things definitely did not go the way I planned them to. This is the first game, and it is the preseason,” Schwartz told reporters on August 16. “You are supposed to learn from each game, just take that and dump it onto the next one.”

Schwartz said hearing from quarterback Deshaun Watson helped him keep a positive mindset despite his early struggles.

“He is a good guy, like telling me that, ‘Just keep on going. We got you.’ I made sure to tell him, ‘This is on me. He said, ‘Nah, we got you. I am still coming to you. I trust in you,’” Schwartz said of his conversation with Watson. “It instills more confidence and instills more motivation that he still wants to come to me. It is just a great feeling, and I know I have got to get better.”

Schwartz appeared to rebound during Tuesday’s practice, catching a deep touchdown from Jacoby Brissett that was one of the highlights of the day.

Browns Should be Shopping for Center Help

Another position of need for the Browns is at center, where both starter Nick Harris and backup Dawson Deaton have gone down with season-ending injuries. Harris was expected to replace former starter JC Tretter, who was released in the offseason.

Ethan Pocic, who started 40 games over five seasons with the Seahawks on the interior of the offensive line, filled in for Harris and is the assumed starter unless the Browns make a move.

“He is a physical football player. He is a big center,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said on August 13. “He has really good size. Has played a lot of football in his career. For us, it is just getting him good exposure to what we do, which we have been doing since April.”

Tretter remains a free agent and the Browns could turn to him if they decide Pocic isn’t the answer. He was a reliable, high-level option in Cleveland for five seasons, missing just one game and consistently grading out as one of the top centers in the league.

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