BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - The Cleveland Browns are counting on Josh Gordon this season.
That is why they used a second round pick to select him in the supplemental draft in mid-July.
Another concussion for Mohamed Massaquoi to recover from however means that the timetable for Gordon to need to have an impact might have been sped up.
“I feel like that’s the reason they brought me out here, just to come out here and contribute as much as I can,” Gordon said. “If it’s starting or backing up whoever, if Mo [Massaquoi] is down, I know we’ve got to step up and do our job. And I definitely think we’re all ready for it.”
In his preseason debut, Gordon struggled in Detroit.
He was slow getting off the line and also didn’t record a catch but coach Pat Shurmur downplayed any concern over a lack of production out of the gate.
“His first game was a little bit like I might have expected,” Shurmur said. “I think when you get playing (in) a game as opposed to practice, the speed and the urgency and all the stuff just tends to pick up a little bit.”
Last week Shurmur said that Gordon, who sat out the 2011 season at Utah, was battling “camp legs.”
Sunday afternoon, Shurmur gave him a kick in the rear.
After not completing a route, Shurmur yanked Gordon from a 7 on 7 drill and pulled him aside for a chat.
“He’s a rookie in the NFL so he learns everything by doing it,” Shurmur said. “He’s an extremely talented guy, but he needs to do it and he needs to be inspired and motivated.
“I would anticipate as he plays his way through this preseason he’ll get better and better.”
That’s one area where Shurmur has stepped up his game this year – talking to and motivating his players – on and off the field.
Gordon doesn’t feel like he needs a kick in the pants but he isn’t complaining when he receives one as he did on Sunday from Shurmur.
“I like to say I’m a self-motivated kind of guy,” Gordon said. “But hearing it from my teammates, and hearing it form my coaches definitely helps as well because it shows that they actually do really care and they do want to bring the best out of you and the most potential that you can out of everybody. I’m glad they do it.
“It’s necessary for a lot of the time because some guys, you get tired and you get down. You might miss a play, or mess up and then you might lose some of that confidence.”
As for the game against the Lions, Gordon was disappointed in his performance after taking extra time to study the tape. Aside from not catching any of the 3 passes thrown his way, he was also called for a holding penalty and a pass intended for him was nearly intercepted.
“In the game, yeah I definitely wish I would have caught a couple of those a lot cleaner and be able to make a play after the catch,” Gordon said. “Out here at practice what I’m trying to do is figure out how to get more wide open so I can get a cleaner catch, and produce more after the catch too.”
With less than 3 weeks to prepare for camp and no offseason with the team, the rookie is trying to learn on the fly.
A lesson Gordon that learned against the Lions is that the corners and safeties are much more physical in the NFL.
“I feel like I could have definitely been a lot more aggressive,” Gordon said. “That’s what I’m working on; working towards coming off the ball a whole lot harder knowing that there are definitely bigger defensive backs than some of the guys on our team here. So just going out there and proving my physicality out there is something I want to do too.”
Despite being 6-3, 225 pounds, Gordon was jammed several times Friday night but he doesn’t think getting off the line and into a route is – or will be a problem.
“Press or if they’re sagging off, either way I feel like I can do pretty well and get back into my route no matter how aggressive they are to try and push me,” Gordon said. “A lot of guys do try that because I’m larger and I’m bigger, and there’s a bigger target to aim at, and it seems like it’ll take me longer.
“I’m definitely trying to just be more physical, be more ferocious at the line of scrimmage and get around and get back to my route.”
Gordon didn’t have a playbook at Baylor. After a year away from the game, he’s trying to catch up on the Browns’ thick West Coast playbook and the hundreds of terms that come with it.
“It took me a little while [to learn the terminology],” Gordon said. “I was out here about 3 weeks before the rookies reported, so I had time to catch up. And now I think I’m at the point where I hear it and I know where I’m supposed to go and I know what I’m supposed to do.
“I feel like I’m definitely where I need to be with it.”
He’s also sought the advice of Joe Haden, who has been a ball hawk so far in camp and defended Gordon in several 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 situations.
“I know he tells me to make sure my routes all look the same,” Gordon said. Selling the vertical route, just going hard vertical for as long as you can until you go into your break. Don’t really show it too early because the defensive backs are going to jump all over it, as you’ve seen in the game the other day. They’re there on your back, on your hip, every time you slow down to try to run your route.”
As for Gordon’s growing pains, Shurmur understands mistakes will be made. However, he also expects those mistakes to be fewer as the season approaches.
“If you’re an older player or a guy that’s been in the league a few years and you’re making lots of mistakes then we have to talk about different issues,” Shurmur said. “For young players that are going through things for the first or maybe the second time then you’re a little bit more patient with that as they develop. As we all get closer to the season we become less and less patient about everything.”
Gordon will get another opportunity to break out of his funk and show the Browns what he’s got Thursday night in Green Bay against the Packers and he knows it.
“It’s definitely something in the back of my head,” Gordon said. “I want to do better in the next game. Actually prove myself and go out there and showcase what I can do, because I know it’s a whole lot more than what I have shown.”