CLEVELAND — Braxton Miller has only been with the Browns for 10 days, but he hopes it’s long enough to make an impression that will last for a while.
Miller caught three passes for 19 yards on Thursday night against the Lions and is in a wide receiver battle that has suddenly become wide open. He was in the game early after Ishmael Hyman, who started, dropped two passes. Miller also had two catches for 18 yards negated by penalties.
“I thought he did well,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “He had a couple balls that got called back from penalties. He took one screen and made something out of it. It did not look like there was much there. He used his hands well. I thought he did well.”
And, as expected, the former Ohio State quarterback turned wide receiver heard the cheers whenever the ball came his way.
“It felt good, being back in the home state, being back with the fans that know me from playing at Ohio State,” Miller said after the game. “It felt great to get that good energy back.”
Miller was signed on August 21. He caught two passes last Friday against the Buccaneers for 11 yards. In two seasons with the Texans, Miller had 34 catches for 261 yards. He spent last season on the Eagles practice squad. Philadelphia waived him on August 17 to make room for quarterback Josh McCown.
Miller said after the game he’s a quick learner, which has helped him pick up on the offense quickly.
“Having somebody come in and understanding the offense, probably 75 percent of what’s going on out there is probably a big deal for them,” Miller said. “Just learning in like a week and a couple days, that’s major.”
What he really has going for him is his speed and the potential to make plays.
“We always kind of liked him out of college,” GM John Dorsey said during the local TV broadcast on Thursday night. “He’s trying to learn the offense as quick as he can. What Freddie and the guys have done is dial in some plays for him so he can get the ball as quickly as possible and you want to see him run after the catch. He did some nice things in Tampa, he did some nice things here tonight.”
Miller hopes his ability to make things happen with the ball in his hand will separate him from the rest of the group.
“Whatever they want me to do on the outside, inside, I’m up for it,” he said. “I want to be out there. I can definitely put the burners on when I need to and that’s what you look for in playmakers, be versatile.”
The bottom of the wide receiver depth chart is as fluid as it has been all summer. Jaelen Strong felt like a sure thing but was cut earlier this week. Derrick Willies started strong but tailed towards the end. D.J. Montgomery took advantage of opportunities but is now on injured reserve. Hyman recovered from his drops Thursday, but he didn’t exactly grab onto a spot. Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi just hasn’t shown enough to merit making it past Saturday.
Miller has a real chance to make the team, even if it’s for no other reason than the intrigue of what he can do mixed in with a strong group of receivers ahead of him.
“I want to make this team,” he said. “It feels like I was supposed to be here. So definitely wishing for the best. I definitely want to stay here.”