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Bills GM sees Coleman trade as low-risk, high-reward gamble

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said he views the acquisition of wide receiver Corey Coleman as a low-risk, high-reward move.

The Bills landed Coleman from the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night for a minuscule price — a seventh-round pick in 2020 — closing a disappointing two-year chapter for the former first-round pick.

"I don't know all that went right or wrong for Corey in Cleveland, but we view it as a fresh start here to earn and compete," Beane said Monday morning before practice at St. John Fisher College. "We'll tell him how we do things here, what the expectations are. Sean (McDermott) and I will sit down with him once he semi-passes the physical and we'll lay out our standard."

Coleman struggled to stay on the field while with the Browns, only playing a combined 19 games in two seasons after breaking the same hand twice, once requiring surgery. He has caught 56 passes for 718 yards and five touchdowns as a pro.

Coleman was drafted by the previous Browns' regime, so new General Manager John Dorsey had no particular ties to him.

Beane said he was familiar with Coleman from his time as an assistant general manager with the Carolina Panthers, a team that brought Coleman in for a private meeting during the 2016 draft process. He saw first-hand that Coleman has a level of quickness the rest of the Bills' current unit is lacking.

"You can’t coach speed," Beane said. "We’re always looking to add it. That was one of the attractive things of him coming out, and he’s still got that.”

While the Bills' wide receiving corps has been critiqued by many outside the organization, Beane said the trade was not in reaction to any disappointment he has seen from the group during camp. Other than Kelvin Benjamin, the Bills have questions throughout the depth chart. Zay Jones returned to practice Sunday after missing the entire spring and has not taken part in any contact.

“We’re trying to get better at every position," Beane said. "That’s the reality. Maybe sometimes you’re looking harder at certain positions where the competition is unsettled. We’ve got a lot of guys fighting. We’ve still got a long way to go."

Coleman wasn't at practice Monday morning, as he was in the process of driving from the Browns' training camp headquarters in Berea, Ohio. Beane said the former Baylor Bear will undergo a physical with Bills' doctors at St. John Fisher on Monday afternoon and is expected on the practice field Tuesday.

That leaves him little time to prepare for Thursday's preseason opener against Carolina.

"It will be up to Sean and his staff to feel if he's ready," Beane said on whether Coleman will play. "We don't want to put anyone out there that is not ready. I don't know. It's too early. Hopefully, we can get him on the field tomorrow and practice and see where he's at from there."

Jay Skurski's Hot Read: Trade for Corey Coleman makes perfect sense

Beane made it clear that nothing has been promised to Coleman. However, he should fight for a role with the first team based on his previous production. His numbers were better last season than the Bills' current No. 3 receiver, Jeremy Kerley, as he notched 88 more yards and one more touchdown than the former New York Jet. He was in the same ballpark as Jones as well, trailing the then-Bills rookie by just 11 yards.

Kerley said he isn't concerned about the added competition.

"I don't too much worry about pressure," Kerley said following Monday's practice. "Those kinds of things take care of themselves. If I just come in here and be consistent then I give myself an opportunity to be where I want to be. That's all that I try to do."

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The Coleman addition also adds to the roster crunch toward the bottom of the depth chart. The Bills had five wideouts on the opening day roster last season. This year, Benjamin, Jones, Kerley and Coleman are heavy favorites to make the 53-man roster. Andre Holmes has taken first-team reps while Jones has been out, plus the team likes his special teams ability, so he seems safe as well.

That's not a great sign for the rest of the players in camp: Kaelin Clay, Brandon Reilly, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Austin Proehl, Cam Phillips, Robert Foster, Rod Streater and Malachi Dupre.

"I don't like to play the numbers game and worry about everyone else," Reilly said. "It's a pressure situation every day out here. It's pretty cutthroat, but that's what we signed up for. Competition brings out the best in me, I feel. I'm looking forward to it."

"We welcome him with open arms," Clay said. "I hope he's ready to compete."

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