Rashard Higgins will not suit for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night against the Ravens, with the veteran pass-catcher going down as a healthy scratch.
Higgins has just four catches since October 17 and has fallen out of the wide receiver rotation, even with Odell Beckham Jr. now out of the picture. It is not what he expected when re-signing with the team this offseason for more money than he could have received elsewhere.
Higgins has just 15 catches for 185 yards and one touchdown this season. He played on 72 percent of the snaps last week in a 13-10 victory over Detroit but was taking on a starting role with Donovan Peoples-Jones out of the lineup. With the second-year wide receiver back on Sunday for the primetime tilt against the Ravens, Higgins was relegated to street clothes.
Anthony Schwartz (concussion), fullback Andy Janovich, safety Richard LeCounte III, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, tackle James Hudson III and defensive tackle Tommy Togiai were the other inactives for the Browns.
Chemistry Not Coming Through for Baker Mayfield, Higgins
Higgins had his chance to shine last week but the Browns passing game looked out of rhythm in general. Higgins had just one catch on five targets, although offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was optimistic about what the 27-year-old could do going forward.
“I hope so. Higgins had a really nice third down conversion last week on the sideline. That was a really nice play — good timing and rhythm and a really good route by Higgins,” Van Pelt told reporters this week. “I know they have lot of confidence in each other. Hopefully, that will keep building moving forward.”
That echoed what Van Pelt said previously about Higgins’ role in the offense.
“His opportunities will come,’’ Van Pelt told reporters earlier this month. “He has to be productive when he gets in there – that’s the biggest thing. They’ll come. We do have great confidence in Rashard. Now obviously with the receiver room being lessened through Odell, he’ll get his chances to come. I know Baker has great confidence in him. He’s shown that he can be productive.’’
Something obviously changed this week during practice and Higgins will have to wait at least another week to show off his chemistry with Mayfield, which was a big reason he returned to Cleveland.
“I have my quarterback, I have everything in line like I want it to be and I am just glad to be a Cleveland Brown,” Higgins said after re-signing this offseason.
With Higgins out, the Browns will rely on Jarvis Landy and Peoples-Jones to carry the load at receiver. Expect the tight ends and running back Kareem Hunt — who is returning from injury — to play a significant role in the passing game.
Baker Mayfield Needs to Get Back on Track
Regardless of who is lined up at wide receiver, Mayfield needs to get back on track. He’s playing through injury but hasn’t looked great the last two weeks. By his own admission, he played terribly last week in a much closer than expected win against the Lions. After that win he sprinted off the field without celebrating and skipped out on his mandatory media obligation.
“Not one part of that’s about not being accountable. I’d be the first to tell you I played like s—. I don’t owe that to you guys, I owe that to my teammates,” Mayfield told reporters on Monday. “My guys know all I care about is winning. But I’m going to be frustrated if I do stuff to make it harder on, and I did yesterday.”
The Browns are four-point underdogs against the Ravens on the road.