Browns prepare for life without Cameron

Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is helped off the field after an injury in the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday.

Tony Dejak/AP

BEREA, Ohio€ – There’s a popular saying "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst."

The Browns are hoping for the best with Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron, but are preparing to possibly play without him for the next two games—if not longer.

Cameron suffered his third concussion in as many seasons last Sunday in the win over the Raiders when he was hit in the helmet by Oakland’s Brandian Ross after a 21-yard reception Cameron made over the middle. Ross was penalized for unnecessary roughness and will likely be fined by the NFL for the hit.

Mike Pettine acknowledged that Cameron would not practice Wednesday and has not been cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol program. It is unknown the severity of the injury.

"He’s in the protocol," Pettine said prior to Wednesday’s practice. "You don’t even start the clock until they’re symptom-free. I know he won’t go (Wednesday) and that will be a day-to-day thing based on where he is."

Cameron has been plagued all season with a sprained AC shoulder joint injury since the preseason. He missed the win over the Saints with the injury.

Cameron has 13 receptions for 250 yards (19.2 avg.) with one touchdown in the final year of his contract. In his breakout season of 2013, Cameron had 80 receptions for 917 yards with seven touchdowns.

Pettine said he thinks it’s premature to discuss Cameron’s future in the NFL with him due to the multiple concussions.

"I don’t think it’s appropriate to do it at this time, when he’s it’s still fresh and he’s recovering from it," Pettine said. "We’ll see how long it takes and the severity of this (concussion) and if we need to address it, we will."

If Cameron is unable to play, Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge are expected to fill the void. In the win over the Saints, the two combined for five catches and 46 yards. Dray started and had one reception for five yards, while Barnidge had four receptions for 41 yards. On the season, Dray has nine catches for 118 yards (13.1 avg.) with a touchdown and Barnidge has five catches for 54 yards (10.8 avg.) and no scores.

Pettine was asked who will be asked to pick up the slack.

"(Dray) and Gary both," Pettine said. "Jim has been the ultimate professional. He hardly says a word. All that he does is work. He’s very intelligent, very interactive with the staff, does a really good job with his preparation. He knows all the different spots. He’s very flexible, very versatile and he’s made plays for us. He’s gotten open when balls are thrown to and he’s caught them. Nothing flashy, but he fills a great role for us and he’ll have to step up if Jordan is out as will Gary."

Dray (6-5, 255) was one of the first players the Browns signed in free agency. He started 15 games for the Cardinals in 2013 and had 26 receptions for 215 yards (8.3 avg.) with two touchdowns.

Barnidge (6-6, 250) started 12 games for the Browns in 2012 and finished with 13 receptions for 127 yards (9.8 avg.), including two touchdowns. Pettine admitted the Browns signed Dray early in free agency because they weren’t completely familiar with what Barnidge could do.

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"Very similar I joked about about Gary before, I think it was after the Saints game that he wasn’t going to make anybody’s Pro Bowl ballot but he’s a guy that just goes out there and does his job," Pettine said. "He’s smart, versatile, very good at the point of attack.

"I think he’s a very good fit for us, scheme-wise that we weren’t very sure about Gary, what we had in him," Pettine said. "That’s one of the reasons we went after Dray in free agency and then when we were around Gary we realized he was a good fit for us. He has played some significant reps for us."

The Browns had carried tight end Gerell Robinson on either the practice squad or active roster until last week. He was described as more of a receiver after playing wide receiver in college at Arizona State. However, when John Hughes was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, they signed tight end Ryan Taylor to the active roster.

Pettine was asked the reasoning.

"One of the reasons in order to get Taylor we had to claim him and put him on the roster," Pettine said. "I think we had a pretty good sense of what we had in Robinson. We don’t know much about Ryan, but we should get a good sense, especially if Jordan is out for an extended period of time."

Taylor (6-3, 254) is a four-year veteran and Pettine said he’s more of a blocking tight end.

"He’s more of a blocker," Pettine said. "Probably, closer to Gary than to Jordan."