December 22, 2014

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Browns WR Josh Gordon “definitely relieved” to still be in Cleveland, ready for big 2nd half of the season

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)

BEREA – Receiver Josh Gordon has 32 catches for 582 yards and three touchdowns in six games this season. He’s second in the NFL with 97 yards per game and 18.2 a catch.

Imagine what he might accomplish in the second half of the season free of worry that he’ll get traded.

“Everybody can focus now, the players, myself, the coaches,” Gordon said Wednesday. “We can focus on the goal and task ahead and week by week get better.

“Me personally, try and help us get as many wins as possible, and I want to end up in a playoff game.”

The NFL trade deadline passed Tuesday without a move by the Browns. Gordon expected to stay but was grateful when his phone never lit up with breaking news.

“I’m definitely relieved,” he said. “I wanted to stay here. I didn’t feel like uprooting myself and moving and starting all over again.

“I feel as though we have a lot to prove out here and a lot to build on in this offensive program and I want to say I can at least be one of the guys that helps get it started.”

Gordon, 22, has the size and speed of a No. 1 receiver and has started to post the requisite production. All eight of his touchdowns in his 1½ years have gone for at least 20 yards, and his career average of 16.9 yards per catch ranks fourth in the NFL since 2012.

“I definitely want to view myself as a top-tier wide receiver,” he said. “I plan on playing like that and practicing like that until I can’t do it anymore. That’s what I’m striving for, to be one of the best. If that’s the outcome at the end of the day, and the end of the season, then that’s exactly what I work for.”

Quarterback Jason Campbell threw to Gordon for the first time in a game Sunday in the loss to Kansas City. They connected five times for 132 yards and a touchdown.

“He can really be really good,” Campbell said. “I always tell him to study film of some of the great ones that’s playing right now, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, continue to learn from those guys. What is it that they do best on a week-in and week-out basis to put up the things that they’re doing?

“Josh has all the ability in the world to be what he wants to be.”

Gordon (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) missed the first two games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He blamed the failed test on prescribed cough medicine containing codeine. He also failed multiple tests for marijuana in college.

The off-field issues are why the Browns even entertained offers. His upside is why the front office said no to the number of proposals it received.

The trade rumors had been consistent since Gordon returned in Week 3. He couldn’t help but think about them and was sick of answering questions about them.

He spent Tuesday glued to his phone because agent Drew Rosenhaus cautioned him that anything was possible.

“I think having that behind him gives him an opportunity just to focus on this season solely alone and just focus on each game and not worry about if he’s going to have to pick up and move or if he’s going to have to pack anything,” Campbell said. “I think they understand what a tremendous player they have and I think they’re willing to grow with him and willing to help him mature.

“The only thing he has to do is just continue to grow as a person, not just as a player, because his overall ability on the field takes care of itself.”

Coach Rob Chudzinski had talked to Gordon about the rumors and reassured him the Browns weren’t shopping him.

“I’m excited Josh is part of our team,” Chudzinski said. “He’s grown a lot as I’ve mentioned before, and not just as a player but as a person and understanding and maturing on and off the field. He’s not perfect, none of us are, but I see progress. I see him going in the right direction in all areas and I’m excited about his future and I’m excited about him being here.

“I think his head, his goals and his approach is in the right place.”

Gordon said he didn’t resent the Browns for considering offers. He was even flattered by the interest shown by other teams.

“In a sense, I feel as though I was doing something right,” he said. “Despite guys being injured or whatever on other teams, you could feel at least some of the people appreciate my talents enough to have me on their team, so it was flattering.”

Gordon is loved when he delivers the long touchdown, but has drawn plenty of criticism for sloppy route-running and inconsistent effort level. His teammates and coaches have defended him against such charges.

“I’m pretty much used to it. I deflect it off and keep about my day,” Gordon said of the criticism. “Naysayers will be there and that’s just how it’s going to have to be, but I can’t let it affect me on the field.”

Campbell said part of his role is to mentor Gordon and his younger teammates.

“I think a lot of things that happened to him in the past have caused him to really take a hard look in the mirror and see the things that he can really become and not let those things get him in trouble and keep him from being the player he can be,” Campbell said. “He’s more a quiet guy, but he’s maturing and he’s understanding.”

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