Browns WR Antonio Callaway suspended four games

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Antonio Callaway's second NFL season will be put on hold for the first month of the 2019 campaign.

The Cleveland Browns' receiver is suspended four games to start the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday. The team later confirmed the suspension.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that the suspension stems from a separate violation of the league's policy and is unrelated to an August, 2018 citation for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license. 

The incident, however, put Callaway's rookie season in a precarious spot and led to then-coach Hue Jackson keeping the receiver in the Browns' preseason tilt deep into the fourth quarter versus the New York Giants as discipline.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," Callaway said in a statement Friday. "I made a mistake and I own that. I have taken steps to make myself better and I appreciate the Browns standing by me and supporting me during this time. I know there's nothing I can say to regain trust; it will all be about my actions."

In addition to news of the suspension, Callaway is also on the mend as Browns coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters Friday that he suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of Thursday's preseason opener against the Redskins and played through it.

As a rookie, the wideout participated in all 16 games, starting 11, compiling 586 yards on 43 catches with five touchdowns.

Callaway tested positive for a diluted drug-test sample at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, likely impacting the decision to hand down the four-game ban in 2019.

With Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry playing starring roles, Callaway has battled Rashad Higgins for the No. 3 WR spot this season. Given the attention paid to Beckham and Landry, there is an opening for the speedy Callaway to play a deep-threat role.

Against the Redskins, Callaway ran with the reserves, compiling three receptions on seven targets for 42 yards. The 22-year-old receiver also made a spectacular diving attempt at a catch that appeared to be a toe-tapping touchdown but was called incomplete on the field and stood upon review.

Meanwhile, Higgins put his stamp on the No. 3 job with five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

"We're disappointed in Antonio," Browns GM John Dorsey said. "Freddie and I have had a direct conversation with him about where we stand. He understands our expectations of him. We will continue to support him as long as he remains committed to taking advantage of the resources made available to him by our club and the league to help him become the best version of himself as a person first and foremost."

Callaway previously garnered praise from quarterback Baker Mayfield for how he attacked the offseason.

"We have been very pleasantly and very happy with how he came back from the offseason ready to go," Mayfield said, via the team's official website. "Just how quick he is and you can tell he has been working on his craft. That is very exciting to see that. You bring in a guy like Odell and you re-sign some guys, and he is going to try and compete with them. That is the most important part. Competition brings out the best in them and Callaway is doing that."

The positive thoughts will now be put on hold.

The suspension could explain, in part, why Callaway had been running with the second-team during training camp, but Higgins has been the better player thus far. Callaway did not practice Friday due to an ankle injury, and it was not related to the suspension.

We'll see if Callaway can earn playing time after his suspension is up in Week 5.

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