BEREA — The Browns’ three-day mandatory minicamp has been a complete washout for wide receiver Josh Gordon.
The Pro Bowl pass catcher did not practice Wednesday because of a strained right hamstring that he suffered during individual drills the previous day.
Cleveland coach Mike Pettine termed Gordon’s injury “a minor ding,” but added that he would not take part in the final session this morning in Berea.
“Josh has been very coachable, and has been getting better and better every time he’s been on the field,” wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel said. “That’s really all we can control.
“If you put on the (film) of the first minicamp, then look at the past week’s, it’s day and night with how hard he’s working. That’s one thing I’ve been excited about.”
Though Gordon is facing a potential season-long suspension for violating the NFL’s illegal substance policy, the Browns’ coaching staff has been impressed with his focus of late.
Pettine, however, said there was still room for improvement from the third-year pro. He also raised the issue in a local radio interview this week.
“It’s not just Josh, but we’ve stressed to our guys the importance of finishing,” Pettine said. “That’s something we’re going to keep talking about because it’s critical to keep making the defense work.”
Former Cleveland offensive coordinator Norv Turner first took issue with Gordon’s body language during games last season.
McDaniel admitted that it also concerned the Browns’ present brain trust, which is why he put together video packages of Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon and Rod Smith perfecting their skills at practice.
“You want to show Josh enough clips of how hard they worked at practice to maximize their potential,” McDaniel said. “He’s a smart individual that sees that and wants that. It’s always a building process, but at this point, he’s made growth.
“He still has a ways to go, but all you can ask for is a guy to improve — and he’s done that immensely.”
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and McDaniel separately praised Gordon’s attention to detail while running routes, but admitted feeling helpless about his status for the upcoming season.
Though rumors of a possible suspension broke during the NFL Draft on May 9, the league has yet to issue an official statement about Gordon.
Boys will be boys
A skirmish broke out late in the two-hour practice between nose tackle Phil Taylor and guard Garrett Gilkey. The 6-foot-3, 335-pound Taylor ripped off the helmet of the 6-6, 315-pound Gilkey, then attempted to pull out some of his long brown hair.
Wide receiver Miles Austin was shoved aside by Taylor when he attempted to break up the fight, which featured several haymakers thrown by each behemoth.
“We want our guys to be competitive, not combative, but there are times when that might be the price of doing business,” Pettine said. “There are some guys who are more prone to that type of activity (as Taylor and Gilkey have proven to be), but you have to remember that we’re all wearing the same logo.”
During an 11-on-11 drill, cornerback Justin Gilbert had an opportunity to pick off quarterback Johnny Manziel on an underthrow to wide receiver Kenny Shaw. However, he chose to ease up and bat the pass to the ground.
“I went up to Johnny after the play and said, ‘You’re welcome,’” Gilbert said. “It should have been my first NFL interception, but I let him make it through.”
I’m all right
Seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas has sat out three of the last four practice sessions that were open to the media, but said he is not hurt.
“As an older guy, as my body deteriorates into dust, I need more time off,” Thomas quipped. “It will be important for me over the length of the season to be healthy. It should lengthen my career to have days off.”
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.