November 28, 2014

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Browns Notes: New arrival LaRon Byrd has height, sees opportunity in undersized receiving corps

Wide receiver LaRon Byrd grabs a 27-yard pass for a touchdown during the Dallas Cowboys' preseason game Saturday. Byrd was cut by the Cowyboys and picked up by the Browns. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Wide receiver LaRon Byrd grabs a 27-yard pass for a touchdown during the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason game Saturday. Byrd was cut by the Cowboys and claimed by the Browns off waivers. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

BEREA — LaRon Byrd arrived at Browns headquarters and joined his new teammates partway through practice Monday afternoon. He immediately became the biggest receiver (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) on the field.

“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “The opportunity is there. You have to come in and listen to the coaches, work hard in practice and hopefully that leads to great production.”

Byrd was cut by the Cowboys on Saturday and claimed by the Browns off waivers. He caught seven passes for 103 yards with a touchdown during the preseason, and said he missed out on a roster spot in Dallas due to injuries on the defense.

He plans to pepper the Cleveland coaches with questions in an attempt to learn the playbook and be ready to play Sunday in the season opener in Pittsburgh.

“I want to get on the field,” he said. “I want to contribute to the team. I don’t want to just be a guy on the roster. This is my job. I’m going to be in the coaches’ ear. They’re probably going to be tired of me by the end of this week, but I have to get it and hopefully I’ll get it by the end of this weekend.”

Byrd’s in his third season after being undrafted out of the University of Miami. He played in four games with the Cardinals in 2012, catching one pass for 8 yards. He didn’t play last year after being put on injured reserve with a concussion. He appeared in 51 games at Miami, totaling 106 receptions for 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns.

Byrd realizes size could be what separates him in the battle for playing time. Besides Miles Austin (6-2, 215), the rest of the receivers are undersized: Andrew Hawkins is 5-7, 180, Travis Benjamin 5-10, 175 and Taylor Gabriel 5-8, 167.

“I have size, I have talent and deceptive speed,” Byrd said. “I just have to put all of that together and contribute that on the field.”

Size isn’t his only attribute.

“My willingness to work, my willingness to block,” he said. “Just that dog. That dog in me. I don’t take no for an answer. I’m not scared of competition. I go into a game with the mindset I’m the best on the field.”

TAYLOR-MADE

Gabriel entered training camp as an afterthought, but will start the season as part of the rotation at receiver. He was undrafted out of Abilene Christian, but led the team with 10 catches for 128 yards in the preseason.

“I’m just blessed to be here,” he said. “I want to come out here and give it my all, stay in the playbook and grind.”

Coach Mike Pettine said Gabriel’s speed makes him a downfield threat, and his strength — even at his size — allows him to handle press coverage and get off the line of scrimmage. Gabriel said he can bench press 350 pounds and squat 500.

“In college I worked at getting off press coverage. I prided myself on getting strong in the weight room,” he said. “I just feel like I’m not a little guy. I’m a big guy at heart and I want to play big.”

HEADED TO COURT?

The legal team for suspended receiver Josh Gordon will decide in the next day or two whether to seek an injunction and challenge the indefinite suspension in court, profootballtalk.com reported, citing a source.

Gordon’s side would file a lawsuit and hope for an injunction that allows him to play. It’s unlikely the tactic would work because the NFL’s substance abuse policy is collectively bargained with the players union.

Gordon’s locker remained intact.

EXTRA POINTS

  • Cornerback Joe Haden (foot) practiced for the second straight day and declared himself ready to go for Sunday.
  • Outside linebacker Eric Martin (concussion) was back practicing after missing most of training camp.
  • Offensive lineman Paul McQuistan (ankle) didn’t practice and Pettine wouldn’t reveal a timetable for his return.
  • Running back Glenn Winston and offensive linemen Ryan Seymour and Caylin Hauptmann didn’t arrive in time for practice. They were claimed off waivers Sunday and there were issues getting in from the West Coast.
  • The Browns signed receiver Charles Johnson, offensive lineman Karim Barton and center Patrick Lewis to the practice squad. Johnson and Barton were cut Sunday. The Browns have one spot open on the 10-man squad. Lewis spent 11 weeks on Cleveland’s active roster last year but didn’t play. He was Johnny Manziel’s center for a year at Texas A&M.

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

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