Gordon flashing for recharged Browns
Josh Gordon arrived at training camp out of shape, unfamiliar
with the Browns’ playbook and saddled with personal baggage from a
troubled college career.
Another lost rookie, Gordon was way behind.
He’s caught up.
”He’s our top receiver right now,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson
With a long, elegant stride and deceiving speed, the 21-year-old
Gordon has emerged as Cleveland’s biggest deep threat, perhaps the
club’s best playmaker and maybe the end of the Browns’ search for a
bonafide No. 1 wide receiver, something they haven’t had in
Gordon, blessed with enormous talent, is the whole package.
”He’s big and he’s fast and he can catch,” said Browns coach
Gordon had the best game of his brief career last Sunday,
catching six passes for 116 yards and one touchdown as the Browns
ended a 12-game road losing streak with a 20-17 victory over the
Oakland Raiders. It was a breakout performance for Gordon, who was
taken in the second round of the NFL’s supplemental draft in July
by the Browns, who were criticized for a selection many considered
Gordon, though, has made general manager Tom Heckert’s gamble
The Browns haven’t had a receiver with comparable, game-breaking
skills to Gordon since Braylon Edwards, who had 16 TD receptions in
2007 but then tailed off quickly and was eventually traded. Gordon
has five TDs this season, the most by a Browns rookie since Andre’
Davis in 2002.
And he’s hungry for more.
”He’s starting to get a feel for what he can do,” Browns
rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden said. ”The sky is the limit for
that guy. He’s talented, he’s tall, he’s long, he’s fast. He can
catch the ball well. He does all the things you would want.
”I’m glad he’s on our side.”
While Gordon was the subject of many conversations inside the
Browns’ facility and locker room this week, the 6-foot-3,
225-pounder kept a low profile. That’s how it’s been since he was
drafted by Cleveland, which forfeited a second-round pick in 2013
to get him.
Gordon is quiet, polite and refreshingly unassuming.
”It’s just me being me,” he said.
He came with questions surrounding his character. Gordon was
dismissed from Baylor’s team after being suspended twice for
marijuana use, and then he didn’t play after transferring to Utah,
where he failed another drug test. He hasn’t had any problems as a
pro, and that’s how Gordon intends to keep it.
Gordon knows there are some who expect him to fail. He uses that
”There’s a lot more eyes on me compared to other guys,” he
said. ”A lot of people either expect a downfall or expect another
type of mess-up or are waiting for a slipup. I came in trying to be
mature about it, and that’s how I approach it every day. I watch
the guys ahead of me, the veteran guys and see how they carry
themselves and how I should do the same.”
Gordon has leaned on Jackson, tight end Ben Watson and wide
receiver Josh Cribbs for advice and guidance. They’ve explained to
him the importance of working hard, using his free time wisely and
striving to be consistent – on and off the field.
Gordon is following their lead. He’s growing up.
There have been no missteps, just positive strides forward.
”He’s young,” Cribbs said. ”He has an opportunity to right
the ship. Nobody cares about how you fall down, it’s about how you
get back up. He’s done a great job of bouncing back from anything
that might have happened in his past and you don’t see it in his
future and that’s a great thing.
”He’s still a kid.”
Gordon’s ability to get deep is transforming the Browns’
offense. With his ability to run past a cornerback, defenses must
keep a safety back to protect against a long completion. By drawing
two defenders, underneath passing routes open as do running
Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress has noticed defenses
paying more attention to Gordon, who is averaging 19 yards per
catch and 46 yards on his TD grabs.
”You kind of want to know where that guy’s at,” Childress
Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown saw Gordon’s potential
immediately. Early in training camp, Brown, an 11-year veteran who
knows every trick in the book, was covering Gordon and thought he
had the youngster bottled up.
”I had perfect coverage and he stuck one hand out and catches
the ball,” Brown said. ”He’ll make a few plays in this league.
The sky is the limit for him. He’s still learning, but he’s a
talent. I just want to see him continue to grow and continue to
gain confidence because he can be very special.”
Brown isn’t alone in his appraisal.
While other teams passed on Gordon, the Browns dared to look
deeper and took a chance on him.
He doesn’t want to let them down.
”It meant a lot to me,” he said. ”I never will forget it and
I’m always grateful for it. I think about it every day and it’s why
I have the attitude I have. I don’t want to take anything for
granted and keep going as hard as I can. I never want to feel
complacent or content in any aspect of the game.
”As soon as you do that, that’s when something will go
NOTES: T Joe Thomas was named the Browns’ Walter Payton Man of
the Year, one day after blasting former teammate Peyton Hillis, who
will visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Thomas is the team’s
first two-time winner of the award, which recognizes performance
and community service. … For the second day in a row, all 53
players on the active roster practiced. .. Childress acknowledged
testifying earlier this week in the Saints’ ongoing bounty probe.
Then the former Minnesota coach was one of the first to alert the
NFL of a possible problem after Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was
roughed up in the 2010 NFC Championship.
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