September 1, 2014

Elyria
Mostly cloudy
78°F
test

Browns notes: Josh Gordon shakes off rust, rises to No. 1

BEREA — Rookie receiver Josh Gordon looked lost during the preseason, but he’s certainly found his footing — and the end zone.

Gordon set career highs Sunday in the win over Oakland with six catches for 116 yards. He added his fifth touchdown, a 44-yard go route down the left sideline.

“He came here not in shape,” coach Pat Shurmur said Monday. “He came here not knowing the offense. He came here not knowing our quarterback. He came here not knowing the tempo of this game.

“All of that’s been developed parallel. I guess he came here not knowing what a real grind this is for a player who wants to make an impact. He’s making progress.”

Gordon was a surprise second-round pick in the supplemental draft in July, so he didn’t have a normal offseason of minicamps and team workouts. He also didn’t play football in 2011 after being dismissed from Baylor.

“From being out of football for a whole year and coming to the NFL, it’s a huge difference for me,” he said. “I know I’ve got a long way to go. I’m just trying to get a lot better. But I’m definitely making strides.”

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has been impressed, and Gordon has become the team’s No. 1 wideout.

“He’s been kinda tapping on the window waiting to break out,” Weeden said after the game. “I’ve got so much confidence in the guy and you get him in space, you get him in one-on-one matchups … he’s a big-bodied guy with great hands.

“He’s come a long way. He’s made strides throughout this year that I’ve never seen in any sport a player make so fast.”

Gordon has 34 catches for a team-high 646 yards. All five touchdowns have been from 20 yards or longer and have averaged 46. He’s the first Brown with five or more receiving touchdowns since Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards in 2007.

Gordon leads NFL rookies in receiving yards and receptions of 20 yards (12) and is tied in receiving touchdowns. His 19.0 yards per catch is third among all NFL players with at least 20 receptions.

“Every field opportunity he gets he works to improve,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s got tremendous skill and ability. Time will tell how good he can be.

“And there’s synergy. When you put a guy on the field that can make big plays and get in the end zone, that’s when all of a sudden the guys sitting around playing defense go, ‘OK, how are we going to handle this?’ I’m not sure we had a lot of those guys running around here last year.”

Catch and run

The West Coast Offense relies on run after catch, and the Browns had their best performance of the season against the Raiders — 198 of the 364 passing yards came after the catch.

Several catches were followed by lengthy runs. Mohamed Massaquoi’s 54-yard pickup featured about 40 after the catch, and tight end Jordan Cameron added about 20 on the final drive. Tight end Benjamin Watson, running back Trent Richardson, receiver Greg Little and Gordon also picked up first downs by continuing upfield after making the grab.

“Catch and runs were important,” Shurmur said. “We have a lot of plays in our offense that involve shallow cross elements. Every receiver that plays on the field somewhere in the game plan has a shallow crossing route.

“I just believe in them and the accuracy of the throw is important. So we do it quite a bit and our guys have learned how to do it and it’s important.”

Little added a downfield block that allowed Massaquoi to keep going.

“Greg Little, he’s a tough man and he rattles around,” Shurmur said. “He made an outstanding block.”

Tune in tonight

The Travel Channel series on the Browns begins tonight at 10. “NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns” gives a behind-the-scenes look at the daily operations of the team during the season.

New owner Jimmy Haslam has referred to the series as a “softer” “Hard Knocks,” the HBO documentary that focuses on a team’s training camp. The Browns series will focus more on the process of the team’s travel.

Haslam’s wife, Dee, is the CEO and founder of RIVR Media, which has joined NFL Films and Travel Channel to make the show. The Haslams’ son-in-law, J.W. Johnson, is the supervising producer.

Shurmur prefers to keep things in-house and was concerned about the ubiquitous cameras revealing too much about his team.

“I do believe in the privacy of some of the things that go on,” he said. “My biggest concern during the year, of course, is if it’s a distraction to the preparation or if there’s some competitive advantage that we’re giving away to our opponents. I haven’t seen what’s going to be run (today), but I’m sure it will be very professional and very interesting for the people that watch it.

“I would say that the folks involved with it have been very good about making sure that it’s not a distraction for the preparation. I know there’s a lot of interesting things that happen on a day-to-day basis within an organization.”

Sending sympathy

The Kansas City Chiefs visit Sunday following a tragedy-filled weekend. Linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend — the mother of his 3-month-old daughter — then drove to the Chiefs facility and killed himself in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.

Crennel, who coached Cleveland from 2005-08, and his captains decided to play Sunday, and they beat the Panthers.

“I can only imagine what Romeo and his staff and the players … I guess I don’t want to imagine what they went through,” Shurmur said. “But you can see what happens when a group of guys bind together for some reason. They played an outstanding football game and won.

“We play these games on Sunday, but there’s some real-life tragic stuff happening around us all the time and it’s very thought-provoking and sad in some ways. But we have to keep moving forward and keep trying to do the right thing.”

Brown’s town

Cornerback Sheldon Brown’s interception Sunday set up the drive that sealed the win, and he added four passes defensed and five solo tackles, including a forceful third-down stop short of the first down.

“He’s made impact plays for us,” Shurmur said of 33-year-old Brown. “He gets opportunities. He’s had three interceptions, all of which ended with points for us.

“He’s kind of a steady guy, what you tend to get from guys who are veteran players. They know what their strengths and limitations are and they learn how to play within the scheme. Behind all that, Sheldon’s a true pro and I appreciate that, too.”

Extra points

  • Shurmur was disappointed Phil Dawson’s perfect year of field goals ended with a deflected 28-yarder. He had made his first 23 of the year and 29 overall. “We were kicking in a sloppy area and there’s no excuse for any of it, but they got a little push there,” Shurmur said. “We couldn’t dig in as well as we’re used to doing and they made a play.”
  • Shurmur said Little was poked in the eye on Massaquoi’s long catch-and-run, which forced the Browns to call a timeout because the next pass was going to Little.
  • Offensive coordinator Brad Childress was in Washington to testify in the Saints’ bounty-scandal hearings.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.