April 19, 2014

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Browns Notes: WR Josh Gordon worried about being traded despite coach Rob Chudzinski’s assurances

BEREA — Coach Rob Chudzinski backed up his quote to the media Monday with a text to receiver Josh Gordon. The message was the same: The Browns don’t plan to trade him.
Gordon appreciated the gesture, but isn’t relaxing.
“Regardless, I’m still just going to have to come out here and practice until I get the call, if that ever happens for a trade,” he said Wednesday. “But the fact that he said there wasn’t, it makes me feel a little more comfortable. At the same time, anything can happen.”
Gordon said no one from the front office approached him about the trade rumors, but Chudzinski sent a message.
“He texted me the other day talking about it and just reassuring me there were no trade offers or anything like that,” Gordon said.
ESPN reported Sunday morning before the win over the Vikings that the Browns were trying to trade Gordon. According to the report, at least one team had made a quality offer but the Browns wouldn’t make a trade unless it improves.
Gordon heard about the reports before the game, then caught 10 passes for 146 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown. He said afterward he had wanted to prove himself to the organization.
He acknowledged Wednesday the possibility of a deal will be in the back of his mind until the league’s trading deadline passes Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. during Week 9.
“I guess after what happened with Trent, I think that’s probably the way it’s going for a lot of these guys,” Gordon said, referring to last week’s trade of running back Trent Richardson that stunned the locker room. “You’re going to think about it until the deadline definitely happens.”
He was caught off-guard when he first heard the reports that included his name.
“It was definitely a shock, but at the same time, right after the Trent situation, I couldn’t put it past anybody to see if it (could) happen,” he said. “For a good business decision, it might be smart. (I don’t know for sure) what was on the table for that. I really don’t know.”
The same reason CEO Joe Banner would be inclined to trade Gordon would be why he wouldn’t get enough in return. Gordon said last week he believes another failed drug test would bring a year-long suspension. He missed the first two weeks after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and was kicked off the Baylor team for failing multiple tests.
Gordon has said he realizes he’s down to his last chance in the league and vowed to stay out of trouble. He was asked what he would bring in a trade.
“I really don’t know what the market’s like right now. But I hope something good,” he said.
No ordinary Joe
Left tackle Joe Thomas is slated to play in his 100th game Sunday. He has played all 6,054 snaps since joining the Browns in 2007, the league’s longest active stretch.
“I’m starting to feel old now that I’m in triple digits,” Thomas said. “I’m starting to feel like Doug Dieken.”
Dieken, the team’s radio analyst, was a left tackle for the Browns from 1971-84 and is fourth in franchise history with 203 games.
Thomas’ 99 straight starts are tied for third among active streaks by offensive linemen.
“It’s a point of pride for me to be able to play 100 straight without missing a snap,” he said, “because when I was a young player in the league, a coach told me that durability is more important than ability. So I think for an offensive lineman, that’s a big part of what we do is just fighting through injuries and doing whatever you can to get on the field and be out there to help your teammates and hopefully help your team win.”
That coach was Eric Mangini, who had it written on a wall in the training room. The memory inspired big laughs from Thomas, who was asked if he was ever close to missing a game.
“I was sick a few years ago,” he said. “I think I always knew I was going to play, because it’s just the way my mind works. There’s been sometimes where it wasn’t fun to play, throwing up day of the game, that sort of thing, and having knee sprains and torn muscles, things like that. Thankfully they were never bad enough where it wasn’t possible that I could play.”
Injury report
Linebacker Jabaal Sheard (knee sprain) didn’t practice and wasn’t on the field during the half-hour open to reporters. Chudzinski didn’t rule him out for Sunday.
“We’ll take it day by day,” he said.
No. 1 draft pick Barkevious Mingo would get his first start if Sheard can’t go.
** Kicker Billy Cundiff (thigh) rode the stationary bike and worked with trainers but didn’t kick.
“As the week progresses, we’ll see how it goes,” Chudzinski said. “We have a plan and we’ll be OK there.”
The Browns would likely sign a kicker to face the Bengals, although punter Spencer Lanning is a possibility to fill in. He made two field goals in the preseason finale and the final extra point Sunday.
** Right guards Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and Oniel Cousins (chest) were limited. Lauvao is trying to return to the starting lineup this week after missing the first three games following arthroscopic ankle surgery Aug. 9. After being extremely limited last week in his return to practice, he hit the blocking sled and worked in combination with other linemen.
** Defensive lineman Billy Winn (quadriceps) and outside linebacker Quentin Groves (ankle) didn’t practice and weren’t on the field. Neither was ruled out on the injury report, but Groves is still in a walking boot.
** For the Bengals, cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Reggie Nelson didn’t practice with hamstring injuries. Cornerback Terence Newman (knee) was limited.
Little is busy
Receiver Greg Little returned an NFL kickoff for the first time against the Vikings, going 26 yards. He was the lone returner the whole game, but the rest of the kicks sailed out of the end zone.
Chudzinski said Little will keep the job this week.
“He’s done it before in college and was pretty effective at it. We looked at him earlier in the week and he looked good doing it,” Chudzinski said.
Little returned 27 kickoffs at the University of North Carolina with an 18.8 average. He also played running back before switching to receiver.
Jim Brown’s takes
Hall of Famer Jim Brown, a special adviser for the team, ripped former president Mike Holmgren and defended the Richardson trade during an appearance on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” on Wednesday night.
Brown was estranged from the team for a couple of years after Holmgren cut his pay and tried to change his job in 2010.
“They were going to clean house,” Brown said. “And he had all his boys that were going to come in and take advantage of the kind of money that he could pay his guys. And never really be there. He took advantage of Randy (Lerner) and it was just a shame.
“Randy’s a good guy. Young owner. Wanted someone to take the pressure off of him. Mike came in, saw the weakness and took advantage of it.”
Brown called Richardson an “ordinary” back before the draft, then they became close when he reunited with the franchise.
“Well, I was surprised,” he said of the trade. “But then I thought it was a brilliant move. … Because first of all, Trent couldn’t have carried the kind of load that Cleveland needed. But with Andrew Luck, Andrew won’t need as much. And the two of them can really do a lot for their team.
“(The Browns) have a young team and, of course, we had a great victory utilizing the kind of imagination that made the trade. That imagination is exciting because Cleveland is really popping right now.”
Extra points
Lanning was named AFC special teams player of the week. He had a net of 46.8 yards on five punts, with a career-long 56-yarder and two inside the 20-yard line. He also threw an 11-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal and kicked the last extra point to become the first NFL player since Sam Baker in 1968 with a punt, extra point and touchdown pass in a game.
“It’s a terrific honor, it means a lot and it shows how far I’ve come,” Lanning said of the award.
** Chudzinski said the Browns will again use a rotation of running backs Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey against the Bengals.
** The Browns re-signed linebacker Justin Staples, a St. Edward graduate, to the practice squad. They also signed offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren and released defensive back Kip Edwards. On Monday, Seattle signed offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann to its active roster from Cleveland’s practice squad.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.