BEREA – Running back Willis McGahee believes second-year receiver Josh Gordon would benefit from a mentor.
“Josh is a good kid. He just needs that other veteran receiver to show him how things go,” McGahee, who’s in his 11th year, said Thursday. “If he had a guy like Andre (Johnson, Houston Pro Bowler), he would see how it works.”
Gordon was suspended for the first two games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Another violation could lead to a suspension of at least a year.
The Browns traded for veteran Davone Bess during the draft and talked about the impact he would have off the field. Bess sets a good example but doesn’t like to take an active leadership role.
McGahee said he can’t be Gordon’s go-to guy.
“The way I look at things, you respect the older guys, but you respect the guy more at your position,” he said. “I can’t tell him how to go out there and run a route or what foot he’s cutting off of. That’s the coaches or what another receiver over there has to do.
“I can’t help him. I can just tell him what I’ve seen.”
McGahee can relate to Gordon’s extreme talent. He was a first-round pick in 2003, became a two-time Pro Bowler and is fourth among active rushers with 8,300 yards. McGahee said Gordon will figure out things.
“Everybody gets it. It just depends on when,” McGahee said. “I didn’t get it until my fourth or fifth year. And I was like, ‘All right, I gotta start eating right and gotta start doing this.’ That’s part of life. That’s part of growing.
“He has the talent. You can see it in him. He’s going to put it together in a minute.”
Gordon exploded on the scene in his return from suspension, catching 25 passes for 429 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games. He returned to earth Sunday in the loss to Green Bay, catching two for 21 yards, and some observers questioned his effort.
“I think everyone wants Josh to be the Josh when he’s at his best,” coordinator Norv Turner said. “I do, Josh does, everyone does. I’ve been with young receivers and I don’t know that that’s realistic.
“He’s working hard, but I watch all this tape from all of these other guys and they don’t catch every ball and when it’s a contested ball, they don’t jump over the top of a guy every time. I’m sure they want to and their coaches want them to. I think Josh is making great progress and the young receivers that I’ve been around, it’s in the third or fourth year when you start seeing all of those things happen. I hate when someone sees the play and says it’s a lack of effort. There’s a lot of things going on and I wouldn’t question Josh’s effort.”
Gordon said Wednesday he’s tired of hearing his name in trade rumors. The deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m.
“I would hope not, but I’m realistic enough to know that, yeah, it does (bother him),” Turner said. “He’s a young guy. He’s not very experienced. He wasn’t the go-to guy as a young player, so this is all a new thing for him, and I think when you add those things to him it can affect him.
“But we’re obviously doing our best to keep him focused and let him understand he’s our guy and we want him to be as good as he can get.”
One of the key plays in the loss to the Packers was a fourth-and-15 incompletion to Gordon down the left sideline in the fourth quarter. The ball got to Gordon but was broken up by cornerback Davon House.
“To me on that play, he’s running free and he’s open and Brandon (Weeden) got hit right when he threw it and the ball didn’t have much on it,” Turner said. “Those are hard balls to judge and hard balls to time. What really happened, as I perceive it, is Josh jumped a little too early. He thought the ball had a little more on it and he jumped early. You throw off your timing. I thought he did the best he could on the play.”
Turner also absolved Weeden of blame.
“He was trying to throw it in the end zone,” Turner said. “Those are things you don’t see. You ask about completion percentage and accuracy. If you get hit and are trying to throw the ball 40 yards downfield, 35 yards or whatever it was, it does take something off the ball and he got hit pretty good right as he was throwing it.”
Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is looking forward to a family dinner Saturday in Kansas City. His brother Geoff is the backup right tackle for the Chiefs, and their parents are making the trip from California.
“He’s on the O-line as well, so we’ll never face each other,” Mitchell said. “So it’s not like a weird thing where one of us has got to block each other.
“It’ll be cool to see him during the season. You never get to see each other in person, so that’ll be cool. But we’re facing one of the best defenses in the NFL, so that’s really what all my attention is on.”
Mitchell is in his second year. Geoff is in his fifth season.
“He’s always had a lot more football knowledge than I have, so I’ve been able to kind of use that, especially in college when I knew a lot less than I do now,” Mitchell said of Geoff’s influence. “So we talk about everything whether it’s football or regular stuff.”
Mitchell said their mom has a split jersey for Sunday’s game — half-Browns, half-Chiefs. Geoff is in charge of the dinner reservations.
“It’s his city, so he’s picking the place,” Mitchell said.
HORTON ON HITS
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton disagreed with the notion it’s difficult to coach legal hitting under today’s strict rules.
“We coach don’t launch, don’t hit a guy in the head,” he said. “We don’t want our guy hurt and we don’t want their guy hurt. So it’s easy to coach, but hard to officiate because they are so bang-bang and they’re doing it from 27½ yards away because they are standing on the sideline and it’s usually occurring in the middle of the field.”
Free safety Tashaun Gipson was penalized 15 yards against the Packers for unnecessary roughness on a hit that bruised the spinal cord of tight end Jermichael Finley, who left the hospital Thursday. Replays showed Gipson used his shoulder, not his helmet, and he said he wasn’t fined by the league.
Horton agreed there was nothing wrong with the hit.
“It was shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “It validates that we are coaching the right way. It’s a physical game and everyone knows that and if you do it properly you can play football in today’s NFL. And that’s what we coach and that’s what we are trying to do.
“We’re trying to be tough, we’re trying to hit people and knock them off the ball, but we don’t want anyone being injured.”
Outside linebacker Quentin Groves (ankle) didn’t practice for the second straight day. McGahee didn’t practice as part of the plan to manage his surgically repaired knees.
Defensive end Billy Winn (quadriceps) and linebacker Brandon Magee (oblique) were limited.
** Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe (groin) was added to the injury report and was limited. Starting free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) didn’t practice.
** Running back Fozzy Whittaker will return kickoffs, replacing receiver Greg Little. Whittaker returned three kicks against Green Bay, averaging 34.3 with a long of 56.
“He had the opportunity and he had some return opportunities, and he made the best of them,” coach Rob Chudzinski said.
** The Browns won’t play in London next year despite road games at Jacksonville and Atlanta, which will host games overseas.
The Jaguars will host Dallas, the Falcons will host Detroit and the Raiders will host Miami.