CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For the first time since the news broke on May 9 that Josh Gordon could be suspended, Browns head coach Mike Pettine admitted the team is preparing to play without for part, if not all, of the upcoming season.
Gordon did not play Saturday night against St. Louis leaving plenty of room for speculation as to the reason why.
Sunday Pettine conceded that the appeal played a part in the decision to sit the pro bowl receiver in the team’s “dress rehearsal” game that they lost 33-14.
“I wasn’t sending a message,” Pettine said. “Knowing that there is, the decision is looming that we’re fairly certain that we’re not going to have him for at minimum some part of the year, we wanted to make sure we were getting repetitions with the guys that are going to be out there early. And then as the game went on there would be opportunity for him to get in there that he would.”
Gordon played 4 quarters Monday night at Washington but caught 1 pass for 8 yards. Pettine expressed disappointment in the lack of effort during the game from Gordon last week prompting Pettine not to start him with the first-team offense.
Gordon practiced last week but had missed time the previous week with an abdominal injury, which lingered and so Pettine opted not to play him against the Rams. That injury was the primary reason he did not see the field against the Rams.
“That’s just a minor injury that he’s had, he wasn’t loose,” Pettine said. “I just didn’t feel that…I consulted with (receivers) coach (Mike) Mike McDaniel at that point we just didn’t feel comfortable putting him in.
“It wasn’t anything from a punishment standpoint or anything like that. It was just common sense.”
Gordon led the NFL last season with 1,646 receiving yards in just 14 games after serving a 2-game suspension for a failed drug test.
He also faces charges in North Carolina stemming from a July 5 arrest for DWI. Prior to training camp Gordon reportedly checked himself into a California rehab facility.
The loss of Gordon for any amount of time would be a serious blow the the Browns offense which has struggled this preseason.
Haden’s Bum Foot – Cornerback Joe Haden has been shut down for the week after a foot injury kept him out of Saturday night’s game with the Rams.
“If this was the regular season he would have been able to play,” Pettine said. “But we’re just going to go ahead and be very conservative here with it and hold him out because we are on a short week and hold him out against Chicago, as well. When we start practicing for Pittsburgh he should be 100 percent ready to go.”
On The Job Training – No. 8 overall pick Justin Gilbert had a tough night Saturday night. He gave up a apir of touchdowns, including a 75-yard score late in the second quarter on Austin Davis to Chris Givins.
“The NFL is a tough road now for a rookie corner, and the only silver lining is that he did have a night like that heading into the regular season,” Pettine said. “That he sees that playing corner in the NFL is very much a ‘what have you done lately’ business and you’ve got to be prepared and focused every time you step on the field.”
The league’s new rules continue to make life difficult on cornerbacks and Gilbert will be targeted by opposing teams because he’s a rookie.
“He needs to get some things cleaned up from a technique standpoint,” Pettine said. “I think there were a couple plays where he kind of got away from things that he had been doing well, that he needs to step it up and know that every time he takes the field that he has to be 100 percent focused.”
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