Hawkins’ return should bolster Browns offense

Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins has become a fan favoite thanks to his storng play in his first season with the Browns.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

BEREA, Ohio — One of the storylines lost in the Browns dominating 24-3 win over the Bengals last week was the fact the Browns won without their current leading receiver. On top of that, they were also missing their Pro Bowl tight end from a year ago in Jordan Cameron, who sat out with a concussion.

Andrew Hawkins returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out the Bengals game with a thigh/knee injury after getting injured in the win over Tampa Bay. Of all the games, Hawkins really wanted to play against the Bengals, his former team, but he said it was the right call.

"It was tough," Hawkins said. "That was one I wanted to play, obviously. I don’t want to make it about me, because it was not. The trainers made their call and it was for the best.

"It was tough, but as you can see they didn’t need me," Hawkins said. "That’s all behind us. I’m glad I didn’t play. It was the best decision."

In his absence, Miles Austin led the Browns with five receptions for 48 yards and Taylor Gabriel started in his place. Gabriel caught three passes for 31 yards.

Despite missing the game, Hawkins still leads the Browns with 39 receptions for 504 yards (12.9 avg.) with one touchdown. Hawkins is approaching his best year in the NFL in catches when he had 51 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 with Cincinnati. He needs just 30 yards to surpass his best receiving yardage totals.

Hawkins tied his career best with eight receptions for 87 yards in the season opener against the Steelers and had his career-best in receiving yards with 112 yards against the Jaguars.

Hawkins was asked on Monday if he thought he’d play against the Texans.


"We’ll see what happens," he said. "I feel a lot better."

The Browns envisioned Hawkins playing the slot when they signed him away as a restricted free agent from the Bengals. However, with the suspension of Josh Gordon and injury and subsequent release of Nate Burleson, Hawkins was moved to the outside as a starter.

Hawkins knows that the scheduled return of Gordon could really help the team but also allow Hawkins to move back inside to the slot. Sunday’s game marks the last game that Gordon is suspended. Gordon is eligible to return to practice next Monday and to play in the Nov. 23 game in Atlanta.

"I’m extremely excited (on Gordon’s nearing return)," Hawkins said. "Josh is so talented and one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He’s just scratching the surface. We’re excited to have him work back into this football team."

Hawkins is happy with the way the Browns have played thus far and to be in first place, but he knows there is still unfinished business.

"(First place) a great accomplishment at this point in the season, but at the same time we still have seven games to go," Hawkins said. "We’re all moving forward with seven crucial games (left)."