One of the better moves the Cleveland Browns made this offseason was acquiring wide receiver Andrew Hawkins from their AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals, where he spent the first three years of his NFL career. He played his college football at Toledo so he knows Ohio. Hawkins is ready to help the Browns improve and work hard for his new teammates.
“I'm excited about the opportunity,” Hawkins said. “I think our number one thing is to improve on last year. I can be a leader for the team and I work hard which is something I pride myself on. All the guys are working hard and it is fun to watch.”
One of the attributes Hawkins can bring to the new Cleveland offense is his playmaking ability. In each of his three NFL seasons and his two in the Canadian Football league, Hawkins has averaged more than 10 yards per catch. He broke out in 2012 with 51 catches for 533 yards and four touchdowns. He is a huge match-up problem in the slot and in space. The speedy and versatile receiver can be used in a number of different ways for the Browns under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
“I like the offense,” Hawkins said. “We have a great offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. I feel like I continue to get better every season. My run after the catch has carried me throughout my career so I think I can show that.”
Last season, the Browns lost quarterback Brain Hoyer to a torn ACL in October, but he is on the mend now. The organization likes him as the starter in 2014 because of his solid play before the injury. That should help Hawkins and the rest of the Browns' receivers increase productivity.
“I'm excited about playing with Brian Hoyer,” Hawkins said. “He is a smart quarterback with command of the offense. He has the leadership and is working hard.”
The team also added excitement by drafting quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He is expected to sit behind Hoyer and develop, but when his time comes, Hawkins is excited about the opportunity to play with the former Heisman Trophy winner.
“I'm a Jonny Manziel fan,” Hawkins said. “I watched him in college and he is an exciting player. He is one of those guys you can't forget about when he has the ball. I had the opportunity to meet him and he seems like a humble guy. He jumped right into the rookie program and started working.”
Hawkins is a team first guy with impeccable work habits. The Browns are on the upswing for 2014 and players like Hawkins can help take them to the next level. The 28-year-old has a combination of speed and toughness that will fit well in Cleveland.
“My excitement level is high,” Hawkins said. “We have the new coaches and new GM and the philosophy has changed. Everyone is buying in. That is the one thing we are working on is getting on the same page and I think we will take us far.”
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