Healthy Massaquoi eager to help Browns

Healthy Massaquoi eager to help Browns

Published Jun. 6, 2012 10:07 p.m. ET

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Mohamed Massaquoi is changing a few things as he tries to help the Cleveland Browns transform their passing game.

At the top of his list is staying healthy.

The wide receiver was limited the past two seasons after suffering concussions. He also missed most of training camp last summer with a left foot injury.

"My foot feels good, my head feels good," Massaquoi said Wednesday after going through drills at mini-camp. "I'm taking care of my body."

Both team president Mike Holmgren and second-year coach Pat Shurmur believe Massaquoi is a key to improving a passing game that ranked 24th as Cleveland went 5-11 in 2011.

"The wild card to me is Mo," Holmgren told a local talk show two weeks ago. "Mohamed has to come in and ... I believe in that young man. I really do."

That praise has Massaquoi pumped to play.

"He's seen a lot of football and when he says that, you have to step up to the plate and accept the challenge," he said.

Shurmur said Massaquoi appears better prepared to do it -- both mentally and physically.

"I expect a lot from him and he expects a lot from himself," Shurmur said.

"I see a much healthier Massaquoi. I think he has had a great offseason. I am very pleased. He has made plays out here. I think that's money in the bank for him as he gets ready for training camp and the season."

Two years ago, Massaquoi seemed primed for a good season. He had started 11 games as a rookie in 2009 after being a second-round draft pick out of Georgia. He caught 34 passes for 624 yards.

Five games into his second season, Massaquoi was the victim of a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by the Steelers' James Harrison in Pittsburgh. Harrison was fined $75,000 and though Massaquoi missed only one game, he wasn't as reliable the rest of that year.

Last season, he left a game against Seattle with a concussion on Oct. 23. He totaled three catches for only 26 yards over his next four games.

He won't use the injury as an excuse for his career-low 31 catches for only 384 yards.

"I'm not going to say `What if,' " Massaquoi said. "We know we play a violent game and we have to try and avoid injury."

Holmgren thinks the hard hits did have an effect, but that Massaquoi is past that.

"I think he's finally gotten over the concussion thing he had," Holmgren said. "It kind of changed his game just a little bit in my opinion. But he is a talented guy. I've had great talks with him. I think he can be a really be a really, really fine player."

A healthy Massaquoi will likely be the primary outside target for whoever wins the battle to be the starting quarterback between rookie Brandon Weeden and veterans Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace. Massaquoi expects to work as well with Weeden as he has with the other two in the past.

"He's a guy that's mature," Massaquoi said of the 28-year-old rookie, who is just three years younger than 10-year NFL pro Wallace and three years older than McCoy, starting his third season.

"He's a former baseball player so everybody knows he has a strong arm, but he's coming in here and working hard."

Massaquoi has always been a willing worker. This year, he has spoken with veteran teammates Joe Thomas and Sheldon Brown about what it takes to be durable, too.

"You look at what they have done and try to tap into how they prepare, what they eat, what they do," Massaquoi. "You don't change overnight, but I try to put one thing into place, see what works, and then add something else.

"It's pretty exciting to come in here right now and feel the energy, be a part of it."

Being part of it for a full season would be Massaquoi's biggest change of all.