CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman does not need surgery on his broken hand, a small but sorely needed positive for the Browns.
Coleman, who scored two touchdowns last weekend, will miss at least one month after breaking his hand during practice on Wednesday, the latest setback to a team reeling from injuries to two starting quarterbacks in the season’s first two weeks.
The first-round pick visited a hand specialist Thursday. Coleman does not need an operation but will need four to six weeks to recover. With that timetable, he could be back as early as Cleveland’s game on Oct. 23 at Cincinnati.
Coleman banged his hand on a defender while making a catch during practice. He stayed on the field for the entire workout before undergoing an X-ray following practice.
His injury is the latest misfortune for the young Browns, who already have lost four other starters, including quarterbacks Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III, and will start rookie QB Cody Kessler this week against Miami.
With Coleman out, Andrew Hawkins will likely start in his place opposite Terrelle Pryor. Coleman’s injury may also give Cleveland’s other rookie wide receivers more playing time. Fourth-round pick Ricardo Louis has yet to make a catch, fifth-rounder Jordan Payton has been inactive the first two weeks, and Rashard Higgins, another fifth-round pick, is also without a reception.
Kessler, who will become the 26th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999, spent part of the preseason working with Coleman in California. Although he won’t have him as a target on Sunday, Kessler said Coleman has a chance to become a productive player.
“He is a competitor,” Kessler said Wednesday before practice. “He just always comes out and is always a positive guy, always wants to compete, always wants to work hard. He just is one of those guys where it means a lot to him, and you can tell. As a teammate, you love to see that. Last week was obviously a big game for him, but he is never satisfied. He wants to continue to work and keep working hard. You can just tell that with his work ethic.”
The No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft, Coleman has seven catches for 173 yards in two games, an average of 24.7 yards. The former Baylor standout had five receptions for 104 yards and two TDs against the Ravens.
Coleman was slowed by a hamstring injury in training camp but has been steadily improving.
Both of his TDs were impressive last week. He hauled in a 31-yard pass from McCown and dragged his feet in the end zone for the score. He also scored on an 11-yard play, outracing a defender and diving into the corner of the end zone as the Browns opened a 20-0 lead.
Pryor, who converted from quarterback to wide receiver, has been impressed with Coleman’s progress.
“I had a long talk with him about how to prepare and how to work on your body after practice and how you have to stay here extra hours,” Pryor said. “They’re little things that get boring, but it’s good for you and the team because you’re going to be available. Being available is the most important thing when you play in the league. I’m proud of the kid and look forward to seeing what he does this week.”
For now, though, Coleman’s season is on hold.