Browns notes: Hue Jackson explains Josh Gordon’s role Sunday

Jackson also undecided about left side of offensive line

Daryl Ruiter
September 05, 2018 - 5:03 pm
Browns receiver Josh Gordon catches a pass during a practice on Sept. 5, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan


Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Unlike last year, Josh Gordon won’t get to slide into the starting lineup Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New year, new rules.

After returning from a lengthy suspension in 2017, Gordon started all 5 games he played in following his conditional reinstatement, but this year head coach Hue Jackson is making Gordon earn his way into the starting lineup, as a matter of principle.

“I am not about entitlement for players,” Jackson said. “I am about work. I am about when guys are here, the guys that have been here the whole time working and busting their tail – and they are on the team and they play receiver, too – that if a guy is ready and up for the game, why should I start him in front of them when they have done the most work? Right is right.

“We have to have some form of how we do business here in our building. Our players know that. That is not new.”

Jackson is satisfied with Gordon’s progress since he returned to the team from a leave of absence on Aug. 18 after announcing July 23 he would not report for camp on time. He was cleared by the NFL to practice on Aug. 25, but a hamstring injury slowed his return to the practice field.

“If you do not practice, if you have not been here and went through what everybody else has gone through, I do not think that it is right that you just get to do whatever you want to do,” Jackson said. “We are not going to have that kind of program here. That is what it is. He is back. He is doing what he needs to do. When his number is called, he will be out there playing.”

Gordon is ready for whatever role Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley have in store for him Sunday.

“It’s as big as the coaches want it to be,” Gordon said. “I feel as though anytime I’m out there, I’m going to do my most that I can put into my route, into my catching ability and everything I can possibly produce or play for. It’s really out of my control, but I know given the opportunity, I’m going to try to maximize it.”

Jackson will play Gordon against the Steelers. He just won’t see a full workload, and for good reason.

“I do not know how many plays a guy can play that has not done as much as everybody else,” Jackson said. “We will see as we go. I think that we will have a number pitch count for him to see if he can give us that because I think that is the right thing to do for him.

“My concern is if we give him too much, we might be leaving him out there for potential injury. Then all of a sudden, we do not have him for a while. We have to make sure that we monitor that, as well.”

Options open – Jackson is keeping his options open with he left side of his offensive line entering Week 1 and he declined to name a starting tackle or guard.

“Still working through it. Probably Friday. Friday I will know for sure,” Jackson said. “I just want to get through practice as I said to you guys and kind of go from there before I make that choice.”

Jackson’s options appear to be Joel Bitonio at left tackle and second-round pick Austin Corbett at guard or Bitonio at guard and undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison at tackle.

“I am using all kinds of guys during practice,” Jackson said. “I owe it to our football team. I owe it to all involved to make sure that we make the right choice to start the game.”

Whatever Jackson decides, he hopes that it’ll be for the long haul and not something he’ll need to revisit week to week.

“I think it is the best guys for the season,” Jackson said. “That is the way that you want to start it, but we all know all that is going to be fluid as you go. I think that whatever you decide, make sure that it is the right decision and keep going. If we have to change it, that is football. You make the right choices as you go. We will start it on Sunday – whatever that is – and then we will kind of go from there.”

Bell-ringer – Running back Le’Veon Bell has yet to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers and sign his franchise tender.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t have much to say during a conference call about Bell’s status for Sunday’s game or even role – assuming he shows up in time.

“I will cross that bridge when I get to it,” Tomlin said. “It is all hypothetical until he gets here. Really, I have just remained focused on the guys that are here and preparing until that happens.”

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Bell will not play Sunday regardless if he reports or not.

Best of the camp class – Rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield was voted the winner of the Maurice Bassett award Wednesday.

The annual award voted on by the local writers goes to the most outstanding rookie of training camp.

Captain, my captain – The players voted on and named 5 team captains on Wednesday: quarterback Tyrod Taylor, left guard/tackle Joel Bitonio, punter Britton Colquitt, defensive end Myles Garrett and linebacker Christian Kirksey.

“I think those are the guys that they see who demonstrate leadership qualities on and off the field,” Jackson said. “Britton, this is his second year [as captain]. There is something that he does in the locker room that I think the guys really appreciate. I am not surprised at Kirko. I am not surprised at Joel. I am not surprised at Tyrod. I am not surprised at Myles because I think that he is becoming that type of player. I think the more vocal he becomes, the better we will become. That is just going to be the challenge for him.”

Legends club – The Browns will induct defensive back Erich Barnes (1965-71) and linebacker Eddie Johnson (1981-90) into the Cleveland Browns Legends program on Saturday, and the 2 will be honored during a halftime ceremony Sunday.

Jackson will host over 60 alumni during the team’s walk-through practice on Saturday and alumni weekend kicks off with a golf outing Friday morning.

Injury report – Did not practice: LB James Burgess (concussion), CB E.J. Gaines (knee)

Limited: LB Genard Avery (glute), DT Trevon Coley (ankle), TE Seth DeValve (quad), WR Josh Gordon (hamstring), LT Desmond Harrison (knee)

Full: S Damarious Randall (knee).