BEREA — Browns tight end Jordan Cameron did not attend practice Monday, but wide receiver Nate Burleson returned from a hamstring injury to take part in individual drills.
Pro Bowl honoree Cameron — one of the team’s most important offensive players — is expected to be on the field today, according to coach Mike Pettine.
“He’s just dealing with an issue,” Pettine said sternly. “He was excused from practice today. I won’t go into any other detail on that.”
Cameron’s absence is not believed to be related to the shoulder injury that forced him to miss Cleveland’s preseason opener in Detroit on Aug. 9.
It did, however, cost him another day of work with the first-string offense, which has only scored one touchdown in three exhibition contests.
Free agent signee Burleson has spent even less time working with starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, but did participate in some activities for the first time since Aug. 6.
The 12th-year pro was expected to be a major contributor this season, but now finds himself fighting for a job after missing most of training camp.
“It does hurt your chances, not being out there, but we’ll consider Nate’s entire body of work,” Pettine said. “I can’t speak on whether guys have a roster spot or not. First of all, it’s not my area. Ray (Farmer, general manager) and I will do that together, but that’s his ultimate say.”
Burleson admitted being concerned about making the team last week, then shifted gears and spoke of retiring after the season. Those decisions could be made for him with the final roster cuts looming.
“I’m not sure how he’s feeling,” Pettine said. “He went through some individual work today, but I haven’t talked to the trainer yet. They’re probably in there seeing how he feels coming off the field.”
Pettine plans on playing his starters on both sides of the ball for most of the first quarter Thursday in the preseason finale against Chicago. Kickoff at FirstEnergy Stadium will be at 8 p.m.
When Hoyer is excused for the night, backup quarterback Johnny Manziel and third-stringer Rex Grossman are slated for significant playing time. Undrafted rookie Connor Shaw also will see some snaps.
“I clearly see Johnny finishing the first half, but I don’t know if he’ll play into the third quarter or not,” Pettine said. “Potentially, we’ll see Rex and Connor split the second half.”
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains want to see more of Grossman and Shaw, who are battling for no more than one position on the 53-man final roster.
“It will come down to comparing is the third quarterback worth having,” Pettine said. “Or do you want a fifth safety or a seventh defensive lineman. Once you get to a certain point, you just start saying, ‘OK, let’s keep our best football player.’”
Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon (abdominal) practiced after sitting out Cleveland’s 33-14 loss to St. Louis on Saturday night. He is still awaiting word on his appeal of a one-year NFL suspension for failing a drug test.
“We’re just impatiently waiting,” Pettine said.
Six players did not step onto the practice field, including starting cornerback Buster Skrine (thumb surgery) and starting defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist surgery).
Linebacker Eric Martin (concussion), tackle Michael Bowie (shoulder), linebacker Darius Eubanks, and Cameron (shoulder) were the others.
Cornerbacks Joe Haden (foot), Isaiah Trufant (knee), and Pierre Desir (knee) rode exercise bikes during the workout. Cornerback K’Waun Williams (hamstring) returned to the field after missing the Rams game.
Second-year pro Edwin Baker, who was the Browns’ starting running back at the end of last season, was one of 14 players released by the team.
Also cut were wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, cornerback Royce Adams, tackle Randall Harris, cornerback T.J. Heath, defensive end Cam Henderson, wide receiver Jonathan Krause, guard Ryan Lee, linebacker Caleb McSurdy, guard Keavon Milton, linebacker Keith Pough, wide receiver Tim Smith, center Jeremiah Warren, and tight end Martell Webb.
Cleveland was awarded offensive linemen Karim Barton and Donald Hawkins off waivers from the Eagles. The 6-foot-3, 313-pound Barton and the 6-4, 310-pound Hawkins are both undrafted rookies.
The Browns’ roster currently stands at 78. All NFL teams must cut down to 75 today by 4 p.m.
- Hoyer is being featured in advertisements for Mr. Hero, which is his first significant endorsement deal. It is an individual agreement, unaffiliated with the NFL or NFLPA.
- Hoyer also is one of seven Cleveland players who are part of a collectible glass promotion at Papa John’s Pizza. Cornerback Joe Haden, tackle Joe Thomas, tight end Jordan Cameron, linebacker Barkevious Mingo, center Alex Mack, and linebacker Jabaal Sheard are the others.
- The Browns are one of three teams without a preseason win, along with Indianapolis and Dallas.
Quote of the day
“He’s all right. I wish they would have given my dogs a chance. It is what it is.” — Browns defensive end Phil Taylor on Swagger, the live bullmastiff that now leads the team onto the field at home games
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.