September 19, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
45°F

Numbers just don’t add up for Browns’ Mohamed Mas­saquoi

BEREA — Mohamed Mas­saquoi has three receptions for 55 yards in the Browns’ first three games.

Those are paltry numbers for any wide receiver, let alone one listed atop Cleveland’s depth chart.

“Of course, you want to make plays,” Massaquoi said Wednes­day prior to practice.

Massaquoi

Massaquoi

“Everyone wants more opportuni­ties, but at the same time, we’re getting better as a team.

“It’s going to come in time, believe me. I’m just going to continue to work, continue to hone on my craft, and it will come.”

The sooner, the better — both for Massaquoi and the Browns, who will carry a win­less record into their Sunday home game against the Cincin­nati Bengals.

Though there are myriad reasons why Cleveland has started 0-3, its lack of produc­tion at wide receiver is fairly high on the list.

Second-year pros Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie were handed the starting jobs early in training camp, but their combined five catches are far and away the least by any NFL tandem entering Week 4.

“You can win a lot of different ways: Running back as your lead­ing receiver, tight end as your leading receiver, wide receiver as your leading receiver,” Browns coach Eric Mangini said. “It doesn’t matter, as long as we can move the ball and score, and win the game.

“With Mohamed, I think he has improved. The numbers aren’t there, but he’s made strides in a lot of areas.”

In particular, Mangini cited Massaquoi’s improved understanding of the offense, his route running, run blocking and his comfort level in the system.

But he added, “Would he love to have a lot more catches? Obviously.”

As this point, the Georgia product would probably settle for having a few more balls thrown in his direction. The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder was only targeted once last week by quarterback Seneca Wallace in a 24-17 loss in Baltimore.

In the same game, Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin had 11 passes thrown his way — matching Massaquoi’s season total.

“This is the ultimate team game, it’s not like I can force things,” said Massaquoi, who led the Browns with 34 catches and 624 receiving yards last year. “You just have to stay in the game plan. It’s still my job to go out there every play and go hard. I don’t know how else to say it.”

Wallace, who has started the last two games, said he empathizes with Massaquoi’s plight. While running back Peyton Hillis (team-high 14 receptions) and tight end Benjamin Watson (12 receptions) are piling up the catches of late, they are doing so at the expense of the club’s wide receivers.

“We just have to try to find Mo, whether it’s me or Jake (Delhomme) — it’s nothing that he’s doing wrong,” Wallace said. “It’s not like it’s in the back of your mind that Mo’s only got one catch during a game, but it’s something we have to do a better job on.”

Until that happens, Massaquoi said he plans on sticking with the status quo. He won’t slack off in practice, he won’t beg his coaches for the ball and he won’t lobby Wallace for more opportunities.

In other words, he’ll continue being himself, which is why he belives it’s only a matter of time before his statistics start to multiply.

“Wait until the end of the year to judge him,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “Massaquoi has been a fine player, a fine young development player for them, but receivers can’t control what unfolds on Sunday.

“Those guys have to have the patience and the mental toughness to work through some things. From what I know about him, Massaquoi should be able to do that.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.