For Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway, playing in a preseason game was punishment. Literally.
Because of how the rookie from Florida handled an arrest last week, Coach Hue Jackson wanted him to play, play and play some more in the Browns’ preseason opener Thursday against the New York Giants.
“It was [discipline]. I was trying to make him play the whole game if we could,” Jackson said Sunday. “I didn’t want him to come out. That was part of the consequence of what he’d been through, and he knows it. That’s what it was.”
Callaway was cited at 2:59 a.m. Aug. 5 for marijuana possession and a suspended license in Strongsville, Ohio, and Jackson was unaware of the incident until two days before the game. Police video also showed that bullets and part of a gun were found in the car.
The fourth-round pick looked worn out and inexperienced at times in the first half, but in the second half he caught three of four passes sent his way for 87 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield.
“Either you sit him or make him play. I thought it was better to make him play,” Jackson said. “Make him play as long as he could. There were a couple of times he kept waving to come out, and we said, ‘No, stay in.’”
A consequence of that approach is that Callaway has a rib injury that limited him in practice Sunday. Jackson said he most likely was hurt in Thursday’s game.
Another possible consequence for Callaway, 21, could be a steep fine. He already was in at least Stage 1 of the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy, according to Cleveland.com, because of a diluted urine sample from the NFL combine. A diluted sample counts as a positive test because excessive hydration can be used in an attempt to conceal drug use. Callaway said at the time that he had smoked marijuana several weeks before the combine. A violation of the policy at the Stage 1 level can bring a fine of 3/17th of a player’s salary. For Callaway, that would be $84,705 of his $480,000 base. The matter is subject to review under the NFL-NFL Players Association policy and Callaway could be moved to Stage 2, which would bring stiffer penalties and would require random testing.
Callaway told Cleveland.com that the marijuana was not his and said, “I hate the negative light had to shine on the Browns, but I’m doing whatever I have to do to gain my coaches and my teammates’ trust back. So that won’t happen again.”
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