Browns' Corey Coleman has work to do to live up to first-round expectations

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns keep talking up Corey Coleman as they wait for him to reach his first-round potential.

Meanwhile, Coleman keeps talking up himself.

On Wednesday, as the second-year wide receiver returned to practice for the first time since he broke his right hand in September, Coleman said: “I look at myself as a leader.”

OK then.

In one sense, Coleman was trying to stay positive while injured. His statement came in the context of trying to help while he recovered from his broken hand (which happened Sept. 17).

But when it comes to leadership, even Coleman’s coach knows there is room to grow.

“Leaders have to do the right things at all times,” Hue Jackson said.

Which is correct.

They also have to produce.

Coleman has been lacking in both requirements.

This season Coleman was sent home from Houston with Kenny Britt after both missed curfew. The pair had to make their own way home and pay their own way while the team played. In January, Coleman was present for a brawl at a downtown hotel that saw the victim seriously injured and Coleman’s brother charged; Coleman was not.

In his rookie season, Coleman was a huge disappointment after he came back from a broken hand. In the final eight games, Coleman had 60 passes thrown his way; he caught 26 (43 percent). His comment after the season: “Did you see the targets?”

In those eight games, Coleman did not top 41 yards receiving in any game. In 10 starts, he has one 100-yard game (104 in Week 2 against Baltimore), and 173 of his career 475 yards came in his first two games. Since, he has started 10 games, totaling 32 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Against Baltimore, he caught one of seven passes thrown to him for 9 yards then suffered a broken hand for the second year in a row.

Yes, he was the player drafted when the Browns traded out of the pick that turned out to be quarterback Carson Wentz.

The embarrassing moment in Houston followed, something that Coleman declined to discuss this week in his first media appearance since his injury.

“I don’t want to talk about that. That’s in the past,” Coleman said. “I could address it, but I’m just going to leave it.”

Jackson said the incident is done, but the Browns did take it seriously -- to the point that it came close to resulting in Britt being cut. Coleman can be activated next week, and it will be interesting to see if Britt, who did not play a down in the team’s last game, is released to make room for him.

“I think [Coleman] was embarrassed that it happened,” Jackson said. “I think he has asked for forgiveness from his teammates, and I think we are moving on from it.”

But the coach added that Coleman does need to grow up.

“We have a lot of young guys that have to continue to grow up and become players in the National Football league and understand that this is professional football, that you have to be professional at all times,” Jackson said. “That is what it means and that you handle your affairs on the field and off the field the same way with class and the way the organization wants you to do it.”

Coleman is young, and because he was a first-round pick, the leash on him will be longer than it will be with others.

But to say he has yet to live up to the demands of being a first-round pick would grossly understate things.

He can return to the field a week from Sunday against Jacksonville.