Receiver Antonio Callaway is eligible to return from a four-game drug suspension this week and could be needed to take on a big role right away.
Coach Freddie Kitchens expects him to be ready.
“I’m assuming he’s been doing his part in getting in shape and getting ready to go,” Kitchens said Monday on a conference call. “So I expect nothing else out of Antonio and I look forward to getting him back.”
The NFL allowed Callaway to work out and rehab inside the team facility during the suspension after he suffered a high ankle sprain Aug. 8 in the preseason opener. The league announced the suspension for violating its drug policy the next day.
The injury sidelined him for the final three weeks of the preseason, so it will be almost two months between practices when he takes the field Thursday prior to the Monday night game at San Francisco.
Kitchens said he’ll step in right away.
“Um, that’s my expectation for him, yes,” he said.
Callaway was expected to be the No. 3 wideout behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry but fell behind Rashard Higgins when the suspension was anticipated and he reported to training camp out of shape. With Landry (concussion) and Higgins (knee) uncertain for the 49ers game, the Browns could turn to Callaway for significant playing time immediately.
He started 11 games as a rookie last year, catching 43 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns.
The Browns have a roster exemption for a week, so Callaway doesn’t have to be added to the roster until next Monday. The Browns will have to create a space.
HOLD THE LINE
The offensive line received a lot of criticism, perhaps unfairly, during the 1-2 start as Baker Mayfield was sacked 11 times. Kitchens wanted to make sure the men up front got some credit after Mayfield threw for 342 yards and was sacked only once and Nick Chubb rushed for 167 yards Sunday in the 40-25 win over the Ravens.
“Our offensive line did a great job of protecting Baker all night, opening up holes for Nick,” Kitchens said. “Those guys did a good job in the running game all day of getting on their guys and finishing blocks. I love the way we finished down the field with blocks.
“Everybody did a nice job up there in protection. I don’t think he got hit but twice, and one of them was on the sack.”
Right tackle Chris Hubbard returned after missing the Rams game with a foot injury.
“He went out there and did everything we asked of him,” center JC Tretter said. “It is always nice when you get older guys back in the lineup. It just kind of calms the whole group down.”
Middle linebacker Joe Schobert set a career high with 17 tackles.
“Joe Schobert made plays all over the field, saved us a couple of times with some good tackles,” Kitchens said.
“I felt very involved,” Schobert said.
He’s off to a strong start with 44 tackles through four games, plus a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed that led to an interception.
The Browns were greeted at the airport Sunday night by Cleveland firefighters spraying water at the plane in celebration.
“It was cool. I have not experienced that since I have been here,” Schobert said. “It was just cool to see the city of Cleveland and the guys who work in the fire department behind us, supporting us and how excited everybody is to get a win like that.”
“That was an awesome thing to see. It was really cool,” center JC Tretter said.
Kitchens reminded everyone it was only one win.
“We haven’t won anything yet,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep moving on down the road and staying focused and staying in the moment.
“But we have some of the most passionate fans in football, so the gesture, of course, is appreciated.”
Kitchens said he thought Landry’s concussion was the only significant injury sustained Sunday.
** Chubb played 44 of 69 offensive snaps after playing all but two the week before against the Rams. Coordinator Todd Monken said that was unsustainable.
Dontrell Hilliard played 25 snaps off the bench.
** Demetrius Harris played 46 snaps, Pharaoh Brown 33 and Ricky Seals-Jones 21 in the tight end rotation with starter David Njoku on injured reserve with a broken wrist.
** NFL Network will rebroadcast the win over the Ravens on Thursday at midnight.