Add A Veteran Receiver? Browns Say They Can Win With What They Have

Speedburning receiver Anthony Schwartz, healthier and stronger this year, vows to show what he can really do in his second season with the Browns. (Cleveland Browns)

Speedburning receiver Anthony Schwartz, healthier and stronger this year, vows to show what he can really do in his second season with the Browns. (Cleveland Browns)

Add a veteran receiver? Browns say they can win with what they have

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

Leftovers from Browns OTA practice and interviews …

Do the Browns need to add another veteran receiver?

Most people: “Of course.”

The Browns: “We’re fine.”

“Right now, the guys that we have, I’m excited about,” said receivers coach and pass game coordinator Chad O’Shea. “I think moving forward, it’s a group of guys we can win with in the passing game. I do like the group we have.”

On paper, it’s veteran addition Amari Cooper and … a group of uncertainties, home-grown receivers from the past three drafts – Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz and David Bell.

Here is how O’Shea breaks them down at this early stage of the 2022 season.


O’Shea: “Amari’s been outstanding. He comes here as a veteran player who’s had production in the league. I can’t say enough about his overall work ethic, his intangibles, what he’s brought from a leadership standpoint. He’s an outstanding worker. I think he’s given us his very best every day. You can see the quarterbacks are becoming more comfortable with him. He brings so many great traits off the field. He might not say a lot but he sure goes out there and works extremely hard. He’s excellent in the meeting room. He’s attentive.”


O’Shea: “Donovan’s always somebody we’ve bragged about for his detail and dependability and overall intelligence in our offense. This is his first offseason being in a spring practice. His progress has really been made in the last few weeks on the field, whether it’s his releases at the line of scrimmage, or his top of the route separation ability, or developing his strength and overall agility in our program in the offseason program. Donovan has worked extremely hard with the strength-and-conditioning program. One of his priorities is to get as strong as he could and he’s done a nice job working in the weight room.”


O’Shea: “Anthony’s come back in great condition and he’s working real hard, making a lot of improvements. We have a list of things for all of our players that we prioritize that they need to improve on, and I think he’s done a good job with some of the areas that we’ve targeted. He’s making progress because he’s working real hard.”


O'Shea: “Right now, we tell David the more you can do for us the more role you can have. So we’re not going to be at this point specific at putting him at one place. We’re going to work him inside and outside. He’s going to have to learn a lot of different spots. With all rookies, there’s a lot that they’re having to learn. Obviously, a volume of things within the playbook. David’s really worked hard to try to get those things right. Some of the things we really like him for in the draft process have really showed up on the field. He tries to be detailed in everything we’ve asked him to do. Like all rookies, he’s got a long way to go.

“David has good ball skills and very good route-running ability. Now it’s just learning exactly how we want to run some of those routes. That’s what he’s going through right now. There’s some transition going on in just learning a new offense.”

Other receivers in the mix include return specialist Jakeem Grant, Ja’Marcus Bradley, rookie sixth-round pick Michael Woods and undrafted rookie Isaiah Weston.

A year of difference

Schwartz’s rookie season had a few moments, but was mostly derailed by a hamstring injury in OTAs, a knee injury in his first NFL game and a concussion in Game 10. He finished his first year with 10 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown.

This spring he’s been healthy and it has meant of world of difference to his mindset.

“I feel I’m in a much better place than I was at the end of last year,” said the 2021 third-round draft pick. “Just being able to be out there and compete and get better every day. I wasn’t able to do that last year. Been a lot better this year. Been a blessing to be out here playing.”

Despite a spotty preseason, Schwartz raised hopes with a scintillating debut in Game 1 against the Chiefs – three catches for 69 yards. But he went four more games before catching another pass.

“Mainly it was just injuries,” he said. “I didn’t feel right those next few weeks. Pretty much every week [I] was fighting to get through so I could play on Sunday. My goal was just being able to play on Sunday, getting on the field. This year my goal is to win on Sunday, be able to do the best I can to help the team win on Sundays.”

Schwartz’s 4.25 40 clocking at his Auburn pro day no doubt made him over-drafted in the third round. But the Browns aren’t close to giving up on his development, and Schwartz sounds determined to get better.

“Last year, there was a lot of stuff going on with me and also the rest of the team,” Schwartz said. “I don’t feel I was able to play my best last year. But this year, [I’m] flipping a whole new script, trying to get a fresh new start and show people what I can do."

Brownie bits

Kevin Stefanski surprised his players by canceling the final OTA practice and bussing them to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice facility in Independence for a morning shoot-around. Shooting hoops has become the Browns’ favorite hobby since Stefanski installed his family’s portable basketball hoop on the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. “They've worked their butts off this offseason,” Stefanski said to the team’s Websit. “I'm very appreciative of the work they put in, and I felt like this was a nice prize for them. It felt like today was a good time to get away from the facility and have some fun and do some team-building.” …

Safety John Johnson likened rookie kicker Cade York’s mentality to that of Bengals kicker Evan McPherson, who was money in making every kick during Cincinnati’s run to the Super Bowl. “He’s young, so I think that helps sometimes,” Johnson said of York. “He doesn’t know the pressure, the magnitude. He’s just out there having fun. [McPherson] was a rookie last year, right? See what I’m saying? And he was out there having fun, talking trash. I think that’s an extra factor to the game -- free as a bird, no pressure. It was awesome to see that for Cincinnati. I don’t want to see them do that against us. I think that will be us this year. It’s all good.”