a good job.”
— Before making the five-hour drive from Cleveland to Buffalo’s training camp Drew Bledsoe Jersey , receiver Corey Coleman was advised to leave behind the baggage of his two seasons with the Browns.
The injuries, dropped passes, and constant reminders of how Coleman failed to play to the Browns’ first-round draft-pick expectations can all be set aside.
The Bills are offering him a clean slate.
“We all go through things in life that don’t go our way,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Monday, a day after acquiring Coleman in a trade. “I don’t know all what went right or wrong for Corey in Cleveland. But we view it as a fresh start here to earn and compete.”
For the relatively small price of a 2020 seventh-round draft pick, Beane took what he called a “low-risk” gamble in a bid to add breakaway speed and play-making potential to one of his team’s most unsettled positions.
In Cleveland, first-year GM John Dorsey parted ways with a player who came to symbolize the overall dysfunction of the Browns’ previous regime.
By trading down in the draft order to select Coleman with the 15th pick in the 2016 draft, the Browns passed on an opportunity to choose eventual Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz.
Hand injuries limited Coleman to playing just 19 games, during which he caught 56 of the 131 passes thrown in his direction for 718 yards and five touchdowns. That was a significant drop in production for a player who scored an NCAA-leading 20 touchdowns receiving and led the Big 12 with 1,363 yards receiving at Baylor in 2015.
Coleman’s tenure in Cleveland will be best remembered for his drop late in the fourth quarter in last season’s finale at Pittsburgh that sealed the Browns’ 0-16 finish.
None of that now matters in Buffalo, where the Bills lack established depth at receiver behind starter Kelvin Benjamin.
Including Benjamin, acquired in a mid-season trade from Carolina, Buffalo’s four returning receivers combined for 57 catches for 681 yards and six touchdowns last season. Jeremy Kerley, an eighth-year player, was the team’s most notable offseason free-agent addition, while the Bills also used two late-round draft picks to select Ray-Ray McCloud III and Austin Proehl.
Beane revisited previous discussions he had with the Browns regarding Coleman Nick Perry Jersey , and elected to make the trade two weeks into training camp.
“I just thought now was the opportunity to get him in here to start learning this offense versus waiting any longer,” he said.
Nothing, however, is guaranteed.
“He’s not going to automatically get anything,” Beane said. “He’s got to come here and compete. That’s what I told him on the phone last night.”
Pending a physical, Coleman is expected to make his practice debut Tuesday. It’s too early to determine whether he’ll play in Buffalo’s preseason-opener against Carolina on Thursday.
Kerley welcomed the added competition Coleman brings to the Bills.
“Here, it’s a better opportunity for him to compete. It’s a better opportunity for everyone. Competition is good,” Kerley said. “It’s going to definitely help us boost up a little bit.”
As for Coleman’s past, Kerley said the best advice is to forget it.
“Whatever happened in Cleveland, that’s over with,” Kerley said. “You’re in a different place, a different atmosphere, different coaches, different situation. You kind of get to redeem yourself.”
The trade caught Coleman’s now-former teammate, receiver Jarvis Landry, by surprise.
The three-time Pro Bowler Amara Darboh Jersey , who came to Cleveland in a March trade from Miami, mentored Coleman during their few months together. Landry convinced the 24-year-old to change his diet and schooled him on what it takes to succeed.
“Just continue to work hard, continue to grind at it,” said Landry, who spoke to Coleman after the trade became official. “I think he’s got a great grasp of that. And who knows, maybe in Buffalo that continues to carry over, and he has a hell of a career.”
Coleman also had issues off the field.
He was named in a police report regarding an alleged felonious assault last year, but never charged. He was also sent home from the Browns’ trip to Houston for missing curfew while he was injured.
The Bills were assured Coleman doesn’t face possible NFL disciplinary action resulting from the alleged assault.
When it comes to the playoffs, the Carolina Panthers have been there, done that.
The Panthers are unquestionably the most battle-tested team in the NFC playoffs with a roster consisting of players who have participated in 187 career postseason games. That’s quite a few more than the Atlanta Falcons (143), and more than double that of Carolina’s first-round opponent, the New Orleans Saints (90).
Philadelphia players have played in 74 playoff games and Minnesota’s 69, while the Los Angeles Rams are the least experienced NFC playoff team with 21.
Whether or not that experience pays off for the Panthers (11-5) remains to be seen. Carolina enters Sunday’s game at New Orleans having lost both previous regular season matchups to the Saints (11-5) by a combined 31 points.
But 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers believes Carolina’s experience can only help.
”We’ve had guys who have been there before, so I feel like we should be ready and more prepared,” Peppers said. ”I feel like guys have been around and know how to approach this thing. I think it will help us keep our poise a little bit too.”
The Panthers learned that the hard way in 2013.
They played host to the San Francisco 49ers in a divisional playoff game, but several players lost their cool – and their focus – on different occasions when calls didn’t go their way. It turned out to be a valuable lesson Len Dawson Jersey , as the Panthers lost the game.
”Guys were a little too excited, too rambunctious and got away from ourselves early in the game and we weren’t able to bounce back from that,” Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly said.
Kuechly and the Panthers did a better job of managing that emotion in 2015, although there were a few hiccups in the Super Bowl loss to Denver.
”I think guys understand that emotions are going to run high in a playoff game and you have to understand that the most important thing is to play the game and not get wrapped up in the emotion of the game and get too excited and start making dumb plays,” Kuechly said.
Experience, he said, helps that.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said last week’s 22-10 loss felt a little like the 2013 playoff defeat to the 49ers. The Panthers had three key calls go against them in the first half against the Falcons and never recovered. They not only wound up losing the game, but a chance to capture the NFC South division title and host a playoff game.
”One of the things I said to the guys: `We got a little caught up in not being happy about some of the calls that weren’t made.’ I think we got a little distracted by that,” Rivera said. ”It was a little bit of a lesson (for younger players) and a little bit of refresher (for veterans), a reminder that, `This is playoff time. You can’t lose your focus. We’ve got to keep it on the game.”’
While the Panthers have never won a Super Bowl, this is their fourth trip to the playoffs in the last five seasons.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said playoff experience does matter, not only on game day but also in the preparation leading up to it.
”If you haven’t played in one, it’s really hard to anticipate it,” Olsen said. ”That level of intensity keeps going up. It’s like when you first play in the preseason in the NFL and then all of sudden the regular season opener comes and it’s like, well Sam Koch Jersey , this is a little different. It’s kind of a similar transition to the playoffs. Every play, every move, every inch is so important. The margin for error is very small.”
Said Saints coach Sean Payton: ”I think playing in big games matter. The experience of doing that, a lot of these younger players kind of played in this BCS series, it is that same type of environment. … I think it can be a factor and yet I think the preparation and the attention to detail, those type of things are most significant.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is 3-3 in playoffs games.
He said just as much as experience, the playoffs after about having ”smart players, players that a conscientious of the situation at hand” is equally as important.
The Panthers certainly have that in players like Peppers, Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson and Mike Adams on defense, as well as Newton, Olsen, Ryan Kalil and Jonathan on offense.
NOTES: Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (back stiffness) and guard Trai Turner practiced for the second straight day, although Turner remains in the concussion protocol. But starting left tackle Matt Kalil did not practice because of an illness.
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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