BEREA - The search to find the Browns' next number one receiver has now spanned generations.
All you need to know is that three of the five career leaders in receiving yards played as far back as the 1960s - Ray Renfro, Gary Collins and Paul Warfield. The other - Reggie Rucker - played from 1975-81.
The leader in career receiving yards is tight end Ozzie Newsome, who finished with 7,980 while playing from 1978-90.
Coach Pat Shurmur doesn't like the term number one receiver. He looks at the passing game as a collection of receivers that work in unison.
That doesn't mean the addition of a game-changing receiver wouldn't be a welcome addition. Unless one of the current group makes a quantum leap in talent, whoever lines up at quarterback won't have one receiver he can look to when a big play is needed.
Mohamed Massaquoi was drafted high in the second round of the 2009 draft by former coach Eric Mangini with the thought that he might assume the leading-man role. Now preparing to enter his fourth season, Massaquoi remains a work in progress. He makes an occasional important reception but is too often just another piece of the offense.
Massaquoi isn't making any grandiose predictions concerning what he might be able to achieve next season. Considering he had 31, 36 and 34 receptions in each of the preceding three seasons, it's safe to say a similar number is in store for the 2012 season.
"I'm just really trying to take care of my body and understand exactly what we're trying to accomplish on offense and play the best that I can," Massaquoi said after Wednesday's minicamp practice.
The offense needs more than average production from at least one of the receivers. Greg Little, who led the offense last season with 61 receptions, has a chance to step up, but he has to reduce his number of dropped passes. Josh Cribbs, who had 41 receptions in 2011, can't be counted on to go far beyond that total.
There's a theory that Massaquoi hasn't been able to shake off the concussion he suffered on a hit by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison in 2010. His health is fine, but the issue of going across the middle lingers.
"If I'm out there I'm going to be healthy," he said. "I'm not going out there and risk further injury. No one is going to do that, especially when you're talking about concussions. Right now I'm fully healthy. I feel good and I'm excited about the season."
The number of receivers that will make the final roster varies each year, but Shurmur anticipates keeping about six. Much depends on how players perform on special teams.
"When you're looking at keeping skilled players, you're talking about the combination of receivers, tight ends and backs," Shurmur said.
Massaquoi, Cribbs, Little and rookie Travis Benjamin should be locks to make the roster. Assuming six are retained, the competition for the last two spots could be among Jordan Norwood, Carlton Mitchell and rookie free agent Josh Cooper.
This is probably the final chance for the oft-injured Mitchell, who was picked in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. Norwood might be the quickest receiver off the line of scrimmage, but he's small and prone to injuries. Cooper has caught plenty of balls in practices, but he has to show what he can do in pads.
The group is considered a weakness to outside observers, but general manager Tom Heckert disagrees. The feeling of the organization seems to be that the addition of an accurate throwing quarterback will make a difference.
Skeptics would argue that Otto Graham wouldn't help the cause.