BEREA — The Browns receiving corps has been maligned for dropped passes. Now, there are less receivers on the practice field trying to get better.
Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), Josh Cribbs (concussion) and Travis Benjamin (undisclosed) were all absent on the practice field as the Browns started their preparations to play the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants.
“It’s the nature of the business,” Brandon Weeden said. “The guys here need to step up. We’re hoping for good news on Mo, Josh and Travis. If not, the other guys will have to step up.”
Also, tight end Alex Smith (concussion) was also not on the field. The only receivers practicing during the time the media was allowed to watch were Greg Little, Jordan Norwood, and Josh Gordon. Rookie Josh Cooper, who is on the practice squad was also practicing.
The NFL doesn’t mandate teams release injury status until Wednesday and all Pat Shurmur said after practice Monday was the players were a day-to-day.
“We’ll see. We’ll put the guys on the field that can play,” Shurmur said. “If we have to use three tight ends, we will.”
Little, Benjamin and Norwood all had drops against the Ravens.
Norwood, who was inactive the first two games has four catches for 56 yards, all against the Ravens.
“Any ball thrown to me I feel I should catch,” Norwood said. “You can call it a drop or not a drop, but I feel I should catch the ball.”
“He finds ways to get open,” Shurmur said. “He expects (to catch the ball) of himself.”
Norwood says he’s ready to contribute more, if need be.
“I have expectations to play more,” Norwood said. “Part of being a pro is being ready to produce.”
The Browns need Gordon, the second-round draft pick in the supplemental draft, to step up quickly. He has seven catches for 93 yards, including a long of 20 yards.
“He’s getting better,” Weeden said. “He’s playing faster than he was at the beginning. We need him to make plays because he’s a mismatch.”
Gordon (6-3, 225) says he’s ready to play a bigger role.
“Definitely, definitely,” Gordon said. “There is attrition with guys in the league. The guys behind feel the pressure to step up and make plays.”
Shurmur said Gordon is still developing and is a work in progress.
“Josh is learning something new every week,” Shurmur said. “He continues to learn and I think he will continue to be productive. He’s learning to do everything at our level.”
Gordon said his learning curve has progressed to the point where he doesn’t have to spend a lot of time thinking.
“It’s getting a lot easier getting off the line,” Gordon said. “I feel pretty comfortable.
“As a team, it’s important to get over the hump and get a win.”
Another option if Cribbs, Massaquoi and Benjamin can’t play this week is to elevate Cooper from the practice squad.
“He’s been running the (scout) offense and there are a lot of similar plays (as ours),” Shurmur said. “I’ve seen him improve.”
Weeden referred to his former teammate at Oklahoma State as a ‘Wes Welker-type’ player.
Weeden Improvement: Shurmur said he is seeing improvement in QB Brandon Weeden each week.
“He’s getting better,” Shurmur said. “Each game presents a different situation, but now we need to put together a winning performance.”
Weeden says he’s not where he wants to be.
“Like anything else, you get more comfortable from the first game in the NFL,” he said. “I have confidence in those around me, but I’m not even close to being satisfied (with my play) until we start winning games.”
Weeden is 90-of-167 for 997 yards (53.9 pct.) with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. His rating is 60.4.
Ward, Cribbs, Massaquoi Still Out: S T.J. Ward injured his right thumb against the Ravens and he wasn’t at practice along with DB Tashaun Gipson (undisclosed).
Shurmur said Ward did have surgery ‘a couple of days ago’, but didn’t give any timetables on his return.
“He had the same procedure as Bubba (Ventrone),” Shurmur said.
Ventrone was inactive for a game but then played the next week. Shurmur was asked if Ward would play against the Giants.
“We’re hopeful,” he said. “It’s day-to-day.”
DB Usama Young was back at practice, showing no effects from his injury Thursday.
“He looks good,” Shurmur said.
The Browns are still missing CB Joe Haden, who has one more game to serve for his four-game suspension.
Other players not practicing were WR Travis Benjamin, DB Tashaun Gipson and TE Alex Smith.