Will Josh Gordon win the receiving title?
BEREA — Josh Gordon is on the brink of going where no Browns player has gone before.
Historically, the Browns franchise has been known as a team with great running backs. Hall of Famers such as Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Marion Motley and Bobby Mitchell are the most notable. Brown led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine NFL seasons. Kelly led the NFL in rushing twice (1967-68) and Motley once (1950).
However, no Browns receiver has ever led the NFL in receiving yards for a season.
Gordon has 1,564 yards on 80 receptions. He goes into the final game leading Calvin Johnson by 72 yards. Johnson has 1,492 yards and the Steelers’ Antonio Brown has 1,412 yards. (UPDATE: Johnson is inactive for the Lions and won’t play in the season finale.)
Gordon also has an outside chance at the Browns franchise record of 89 receptions, which was accomplished three times, twice by Ozzie Newsome and once by Kellen Winslow. Gordon would need nine receptions against the Steelers to tie the record and 10 or more to break the record. Gordon missed the first two games of the season serving an NFL suspension or he certainly would’ve broken the record. On top of that, Gordon has caught passes for three different Browns quarterbacks this season.
On the way to leading the NFL in receiving yardage, there is a good chance that Gordon will hear his name called for his first Pro Bowl on Friday night as NFL Network announced this year’s members.
"I hope I make it, I do hope so," he said. "If not, fine. If I’m in, that’s wonderful, too. When it happens, it happens and we’ll be grateful for it and I’ll be excited."
Gordon said he’s exceeded his goals coming into the season.
"I think I did, honestly," he said. "I was shooting for 1,000, 1,000 plus yards coming in and to have gotten over that hill, to definitely just settle in as more of a realistic goal for the future to come, to keep on doing it consistently."
Gordon says he has bigger goals for the future.
"Hands down, just be outright, the best wide receiver in the NFL."
In addition to leading the league in receiving yards, Gordon’s 19.6 average yards per reception. His seven 100-yard receiving games lead the NFL. Gordon also has averaged 18.2 yards per carry since he joined the NFL last year, which is the best average in the NFL.
Gordon is tops in the NFL with an average of 120.3 yards receiving per game. He has had the second- and fourth-best receiving games this season. He had 262 yards against the Jaguars on Dec. 1 and had 237 yards on Dec. 1 in the first game with the Steelers.
Gordon says he wants more than anything to be consistent.
"You can never have too much consistency and I don’t have enough of it," Gordon said. "I’m glad where I’m at right now, but I think I always could do a lot better."
Gordon admitted the last two games, he hasn’t been as consistent as he’d like to have been.
"I want to do the best that I can do and I never want to let anyone down and miss a play," Gordon said. "I always want to be a guy that can be relied on. It seems as though I’ve missed a few plays the past few games and it seems out of character for me. I can’t really say what it was. I don’t even know, but it was not in my character."
Rob Chudzinski said that Gordon has played at such a high level this year, sometimes his off days are still pretty productive.
"I think you get used to the level of production that he was having a few games ago, which is spectacular," Chudzinski said. "I think he still was around 100 yards this last game."
Hands down, just be outright, the best wide receiver in the NFL.
Trying to Avoid a Record: If the Browns lose against the Steelers, they will have finished the season with seven-straight losses. Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, they have not finished that poorly. They lost the final six games three times, in 1999, 2008 and 2011.
A win over the Steelers would give the Browns a 3-3 record in the AFC North and give them at least one win over each division rival.
"We want to finish the season strong," Chudzinski said. "That would be big and it would mean a lot."
The Browns have already assured themselves their sixth-straight season with double-digit losses. Since 1999, the Browns have avoided losing 10 or more games only in 2007, 2001 and 2002.
Cameron, Ward Return; Haden Questionable, Taylor Out: TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) and DB T.J. Ward (illness, shoulder) returned to practice Friday.
"Cameron moved around and ran well," Chudzinski said.
Cameron will meet with an independent neurologist Friday to determine if he is cleared to play.
However, DB Joe Haden (hip), DL Phil Taylor (concussion), TE Andre Smith (calf), OL Jason Pinkston (concussion) and OL Shawn Lauvao (thigh) remained out of practice.
Taylor, Pinkston and Smith were all ruled out for Sunday’s game.
"Haden will be a game time decision," Chudzinski said.
Haden was in a similar situation last week and played against the Jets.
Others on the injury report are DL John Hughes, who is doubtful with elbow and knee injuries. OL John Greco (knee) and Lauvao are questionable. The rest of the players listed are probable, including Ward.
Pro Bowlers?: The Browns are hoping that several players get selected to the Pro Bowl which will be announced Friday night at 9 pm on NFL Network.
Those under consideration are WR Josh Gordon, OL Joe Thomas, DB Joe Haden, TE Jordan Cameron, DB T.J. Ward and FB Chris Ogbonnaya.
"I think it’s important," Chudzinski said. "We’ve had some guys emerging out of nowhere and have played their best seasons."
The Future: Chudzinski was asked if he felt the Browns were heading in the right direction and can win next season.
"We have, as I’ve said before, there’s hope," he said. "I think that we made strides in some areas. Certainly after (last week’s game), I’m not happy and nobody’s happy with the outcome. But overall, I think that there’s a group of guys and there’s a core of what we’re doing that’s going to be the foundation of going into the future."
It’s hard to argue the Browns are better than they were last year with only four wins.
"Again, I’m very confident in our future and the success that we’ll have in the future," he said. "We have a lot of work to do and there’s no doubt in that. Our record, I’m not immune to what our record is. It’s not good enough and it needs to be better and we’ll improve on that."