BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Antonio Callaway didn’t take long to run into trouble with the Browns.
The fourth-round draft pick and wide receiver from Florida, who arrived in Cleveland with a history of issues while in college, was cited early Sunday morning for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license.
According to a report by police in Strongsville, Ohio, Callaway was pulled over in his car after he failed to yield to on oncoming traffic. Police found a “small amount” of marijuana and cited Callaway, who was stopped on a day off for Cleveland’s players at training camp.
To make matters worse, Callaway didn’t inform the Browns of his legal matter.
“I am surprised at this,” coach Hue Jackson said following Tuesday’s practice. “He has been great. We have had no slipups, no issues. This is a young player, who obviously made a bad decision or bad choice. I have to find out. Believe me, when we find out more of the facts, I will tell you straight out, exactly what it is when I know.”
The Browns selected Callaway in this year’s draft despite his checkered past. He was suspended last season for involvement in a credit card fraud case, and he provided a diluted urine sample at the NFL combine in February.
That offense caused teams to stay away from him, not the Browns.
In April, general manager John Dorsey said the team had “done extensive background” checks on Callaway. At the time, Dorsey, who joined the Browns in December, felt assured that Jackson and receivers coach Adam Henry would be able to mold him and keep him out of trouble.
“I’m still confident in that,” Jackson said. “I think what John said is absolutely right and I support him 100 percent. We’ve been fortunate over the last couple of years where we haven’t had things crop up.
“I truly believe in our process and how we go about it and how we talk about things. So, again, this is something I’m glad is happening now so we can deal with it and move forward. I think our locker room understands how we handle business. This young man will definitely understand how we handle business, too.”
Jackson said he wants to learn more about Callaway’s situation before commenting on whether the team will discipline the 21-year-old. Jackson said he has spoken to Callaway “quite a bit” about his behavior.
“This is surprising to me,” he said. “He is a young guy. Here is something that had happened and we have to deal with it. To understand it first, before I talk about consequences or anything, is important.”
Callaway was already in Stage 1 of the league’s abuse program because of his diluted sample. He could be subject to a fine because of this infraction.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “The matter will be reviewed under the NFL-NFLPA substances of abuse policy.”
Callaway’s off the field problems at Florida were extensive.
In 2017, he was cited for marijuana possession as a passenger in a car driven by a known felon. Callaway pleaded no contest to possession of drug paraphernalia and was fined.
A year earlier, he was accused of sexual assault, prompting the university to suspend him while the incident was investigated. Callaway eventually was found not responsible during a student code of conduct hearing, but he acknowledged under oath he was high on marijuana at the time of the alleged assault.
Callaway’s driving infraction came hours before the Browns traded disappointing wide receiver Corey Coleman to Buffalo. That move caused the team to elevate Callaway, who has had an impressive training camp, into the starting lineup before Thursday’s exhibition opener at the New York Giants.
The Browns released a statement saying they were aware of Callaway’s citation and “are in the process of gathering more information and will comment further at the appropriate time.”
And while they’re dealing with Callaway, the Browns are still waiting for former All-Pro Josh Gordon, who is away from the team to deal with health issues. Gordon has been suspended multiple times by the NFL for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Jackson said he still doesn’t know when Gordon will return.
“Josh is still doing what he needs to do,” Jackson said. “And again, he will be back at some point in time.”
Because of Gordon’s situation and the lack of experienced receiving depth, the Browns have also considered signing free agent receiver Dez Bryant, the former Pro Bowler released earlier this year by Dallas.
By TOM WITHERS
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