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Gordon continues to progress

Posted Oct 18, 2012

Browns coach Pat Shurmur sees the progress first-year wide receiver Josh Gordon has made since joining the team through the Supplemental Draft in July.

During the first days and weeks of his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver Josh Gordon was going through a period of adjustments.

A second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft on July 12, Gordon did not have an offseason to work with his teammates before joining them at training camp. Having not played a game of football since 2010, Gordon had to acclimate himself to the professional level while working himself into game shape.

Now, six weeks into the season, Gordon has become the Browns’ leading receiver with 274 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think the light’s going on,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Gordon Thursday. “I think he’s making improvements and I think I make that comment based on what I see all week long, based on how I see him function in the building, based on the way I see him function in meetings and how he’s practicing more up to my and our standards. I think those are all things you need to see, in my opinion, before a guy can go out on the field and have success. His success the last two weeks has kind of validated that process in my mind. The key now, is for him to just continue with that.”

Like many first-year players, Gordon needed to get used to the structure of NFL football before settling into the rotation at wide receiver.

“You’ve got to pay attention,” Gordon said. “If you don’t, you might miss it there on the field and you don’t want to have that happen come game time. There are people out there counting on you and I definitely want to be one of those guys that can be accounted for and be able to trust me and be that go-to guy eventually.”

Gordon burst onto the scene with a two-catch, two-touchdown performance in a loss at the New York Giants on Oct. 7. In his fifth professional game and third start, Gordon caught a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter and added a 20-yard score in the fourth. He became just the seventh rookie in team history with two touchdowns in a single game and the first to reach the mark since 2005.

“All those little things have equated to him doing some big things,” offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. “I just think they’ll be mindful of where he’s at, whether he’s in the slot or whether he’s outside. Those guys kind of check and see. They can see somebody can run now, and that’s a good thing. They’ll honor him and maybe play a little bit looser.”

Gordon followed his performance against the Giants with a three-catch, 99-yard, one-touchdown day in a 34-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend. Gordon caught a 71-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Weeden in the second quarter and all three of his receptions went for first downs.

“When it’s my turn and my play is called, I want to be there to show up and make a play,” Gordon said.

WORKING WITH NOISE

The Browns practiced inside on Thursday for two reasons. One, Mother Nature brought lightning and rain into the Berea area and two, the team wanted to be prepared for Sunday’s atmosphere inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

“That noise will be a little intensified in there,” Shurmur said of the Casey Coleman Fieldhouse. “Remembering back to last year when we played in Indianapolis, it can be loud in there. Typical of Thursdays when we play on the road, we work with the crowd noise.”

PRESSURE UP FRONT

With the coaching changes the Colts underwent during the offseason, the team has switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme.

What hasn’t changed is that Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, who were defensive ends in the Colts’ 4-3 alignment but now are outside linebackers, are still productive. Mathis leads the team with five sacks for 33 lost yards, while Freeney has one sack for four lost yards, in addition to one pass breakup.

“They’ve got them in a role where they stand up a little more than they’re used to in their old 4-3 scheme,” Shurmur said, “but they play a lot of four-man fronts, especially when they get to nickel situations, where it’s very obvious those two guys can still pass rush.”

FIRST TASTE OF THE GAME

Last Sunday’s game against the Bengals was Josh Cooper’s first regular-season contest with the Browns. A member of the practice squad for the first five weeks of the season, Cooper caught two passes for 39 yards, including a 28-yarder on a wheel route during a third-and-seven play on the Browns’ first possession of the game.

Cooper was a teammate of Weeden’s at Oklahoma State University.

“I thought it was a good start,” Shurmur said. “He made a couple of contested catches that weren’t the easiest, which is good. I saw him in the flow of the game, mentally and emotionally, and it looked like he was playing fast, which is what you want to see. Those are all things you can build on. I go into this knowing that he has a natural connection with Brandon, so I anticipate he’ll continue to improve.”