April 23, 2014

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Browns Notes: WR Josh Gordon rebounds with another big game as trade deadline looms

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Receiver Josh Gordon provided another example Sunday of why the Browns should keep him. And why a contending team would want to trade for him.

Gordon caught five passes for 132 yards (26.4 average) and a touchdown in the 23-17 loss to the Chiefs — the final game before the trade deadline Tuesday at 4 p.m. He responded nicely from a two-catch, 21-yard effort last week in a loss to Green Bay.

“When you look at young players there’s going to be some weeks when they are great and do great things,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “Being consistent is always one of the challenges for young guys, and I think that Josh came to play today, had a big game.”

Gordon has been mentioned in trade rumors since he returned from a suspension in Week 3. The Browns are listening to offers, but continue to say he’s not on the block and a trade is unlikely.

“I know as much as you guys know,” he said. “When it happens or if it doesn’t happen, we’ll all know at the same time.

“When it’s over, it’s over. However it goes it’s beyond me, it’s above me. I will be excited either way. Hopefully get some new questions.”

He reiterated he’d like to remain with the Browns.

“I do want to stay in Cleveland,” he said. “Cleveland is my first home, the team I got drafted to. It’s a great place to be. I love the fans in Cleveland and everything about it. But business is business.”

Gordon got the Browns on the scoreboard with a 39-yard touchdown from quarterback Jason Campbell off a flea flicker. He beat cornerback Sean Smith with hesitation at the line followed by a post-corner route. All eight of his career touchdowns have been at least 20 yards.

Gordon had a chance for another on the first possession but didn’t see a long pass down the sideline that Chudzinski thought would’ve been a big play. Gordon said he looked in the wrong spot.

“I think Jason has faith in me and I have faith in him,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and try my hardest to get off my defender and he looked my way a few times and we made a play.”

Gordon has three 100-yard games in six weeks, the most by a Brown since Braylon Edwards’ three in 2008.

“I feel like I’m where I want to be,” Gordon said. “I’m not saying I’m playing at a superb level. I still don’t feel I’ve reached my full potential and I’m always going to feel like that until I’m done playing the game.”

Linebacker and captain D’Qwell Jackson hopes Tuesday comes and goes with Gordon staying put.

“Absolutely. Absolutely. The team that we have now — we can with this team,” he said. “I can’t wait for it to be over with. But I have faith in what they’re doing upstairs and what they’re trying to build here.”

PROUD PROTECTION

The Chiefs entered with a league-high 35 sacks. They left with 36.

“I give all the credit to the offensive line, those guys played outstanding today,” said Campbell, who helped by escaping the rush a few times. “The way our guys came here today and fought their butts off, I thought they gave me great time to throw the ball.”

The one sack was a season low for the Browns, who entered tied for 30th with 27 sacks allowed. Linebacker Justin Houston got the lone takedown, while linebacker Tamba Hali was blanked.

“Anytime you go into a game, it’s always a personal thing,” right guard Shawn Lauvao said. “We have tremendous coaches in George Warhop and Mike Sullivan. They definitely prepared us.”

EARLY TIMEOUTS

Chudzinski was out of timeouts with 3:57 remaining. He used one early in the third quarter to straighten out a problem on offense, then spent the final two to stop the clock on defense.

“I thought that gave us the best chance to get the ball back with plenty of time,” he said. “So extending the game at that point, I thought was the right decision. Otherwise you’re letting 40 seconds burn off the clock and you’re down to the two-minute mark.”

The issue with using the timeouts then is that it reduces the game to one possession on offense. The Browns were forced to go for it on fourth-and-7 from their 31 with 2:12 left because they could no longer stop the clock.

If Chudzinski had saved the timeouts, the Browns would’ve gotten the ball back with about 2:30 left instead of 3:55. He might’ve retained the option of punting on fourth down.

“With around four minutes left, gives us more options in what we can do, between making some personnel moves to the kind of plays you’re running,” he said. “Just giving us the greatest amount of time and extending the game.”

BROWNIE BITS

Running back Fozzy Whittaker’s 17-yard touchdown catch was the first of his career.

** Travis Benjamin returned the first two kickoffs for 60 yards before Whittaker returned the next one 16. Benjamin later suffered a sprained knee on a punt return and left the game.

Chudzinski said during the week Whittaker would return kickoffs.

** Rookie LB Barkevious Mingo recorded a sack and leads the team with four.

** Strong safety T.J. Ward had his first sack of the year.

MORE TRADE WINDS

The rumors are getting louder as the trade deadline draws closer. Tight end Jordan Cameron, off to the best start of his three-year career, was the latest Browns player to be mentioned.

CBS’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday morning that some who have been in contact with the Browns believe they would entertain offers for Cameron. But it would take a “steep haul of picks and/or players” to acquire Cameron or Gordon.

Receiver Greg Little and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz have also been mentioned as players the Browns would be willing to trade.

GROVES, WINN OUT

The Browns were without a pair of key defensive reserves, as outside linebacker Quentin Groves and defensive end Billy Winn were listed among the inactives.

Groves missed his fifth game in six weeks. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2 vs. Baltimore, returned last week in the loss to Green Bay and aggravated the ankle. He didn’t practice during the week.

Winn’s been out since Week 3 against Minnesota with a quadriceps injury. He returned to practice during the week in a limited capacity and was on the field for pregame warmups. He will likely return next week vs. the Ravens.

The other Cleveland inactives were offensive linemen Patrick Lewis, Martin Wallace and Garrett Gilkey and tight end Keavon Milton.

CONNECTIONS

Cleveland’s Schwartz and Chiefs backup right tackle Geoff Schwartz are the first Jewish brothers to play in the NFL since Ralph and Arnold Horween in 1923.

** Chiefs spread game analyst/special projects coach Brad Childress was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator last year under coach Pat Shurmur.

** Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer spent the past seven seasons as Chiefs director of pro personnel.

** Chiefs director of football administration Trip MacCracken spent 1999-2009 with the Browns in various positions, including salary cap administrator, director of football administration and legal counsel.

EXTRA POINTS

La Canfora reported Houston will sign running back Dennis Johnson off the Browns’ practice squad.

** This was the final game receiver Charles Johnson counted against Cleveland’s 53-man roster, even though he’s been on injured reserve. The Browns signed him off Green Bay’s practice squad Oct. 12, so NFL rules stipulate he must count against the roster for three games.

** Free safety Tashaun Gipson was the game captain.

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