KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cleveland Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe showed his excitement when he tweeted on April 21: “1 o’clock 12-27-15 (check) That date.”
The date, of course, marked Bowe’s return to Arrowhead Stadium where he began his career as the Chiefs’ first-round pick of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Bowe’s time in Cleveland, however, hasn’t gone well since he signed a two-year, $12.5 million contract with the Browns in March following his release from the Chiefs.
The ninth-year pro has appeared in six games, playing just 50 total offensive snaps (5.2 percent) on the season, entering Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Bowe did not play in Week 1 while dealing with a hamstring injury, and outside of the season opener has been an apparent healthy inactive in seven games.
“Coach’s decision,” a Browns spokesman said in an email of the inactives.
This can’t be the way Bowe envisioned his return to Kansas City, where he totaled 532 catches for 7,155 yards, including three 1,000-yard seasons, and 44 touchdowns in eight seasons.
Bowe’s career receptions with the Chiefs rank second all-time in team history behind tight end Tony Gonzalez (916), and the yards receiving rank third behind Gonzalez (10,940) and wide receiver Otis Taylor (7,306).
Cleveland did not make Bowe available to Chiefs beat writers the past week, but Browns coach Mike Pettine addressed Bowe’s situation in a conference call.
“He’s frustrated,” Pettine said. “He’s frustrated and things haven’t gone the way that we thought they would go or he thought that would go. It’s been a tough year.”
Pettine said Bowe fell behind in training camp while dealing with a hamstring injury, and the missed practices affected Bowe’s acclimation to the Browns’ offensive scheme.
The lost time also allowed other wide receivers to emerge.
“He got behind and Travis Benjamin stepped to the forefront and played the X receiver and played at a high level,” Pettine said. “This is a guy who’s an alternate to the Pro Bowl, who’s had a real breakout season for us and that’s the position that Dwayne plays. So it’s been very difficult when you start filling the roster in on gameday.”
Benjamin has 61 catches for 893 yards and five touchdowns on the year, totals that rank second on the Browns behind tight end Gary Barnidge, who has 68 catches for 930 yards and nine touchdowns.
Bowe’s five catches for 53 yards ranks ninth.
Despite the lack of playing time, Pettine complimented Bowe’s professionalism throughout the ordeal.
Pettine appreciated that the veteran wide receiver has found other ways to stay involved by offering mentorship to Cleveland’s young players.
“Here’s a guy that’s had a lot of production in the league for a long time,” Pettine said. “He’s not holding back advice for those guys just because his personal circumstances, what it is.”
Quarterback Johnny Manziel also enjoys Bowe’s willingness to help out behind the scenes.
“I’ve had a lot of faith and a lot of confidence in him,” Manziel said in a conference call with Chiefs beat writers. “I don’t know that it’s been as much Xs and Os, but definitely with the younger guys in-game, just pointing out some things that have been helpful. In my eyes, he has been helpful.”