Cleveland Browns wide receiver
And for their efforts, Gordon and Ward were among four Browns players recognized by Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com.
“If you ever want a lesson on the value of the quarterback position, take a look at the Cleveland offense. I have three All-Pros from that unit: Left tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack and receiver Josh Gordon. Yet they finished ranked 18th in total offense.
“That should also say a lot about this team. It doesn't matter who you play for, what your team’s record was, or any of that stuff. This team is about performance.”
In addition to leading the NFL with 1,646 yards, Gordon averaged a league-best 117.6 yards per game, corralled the longest reception (95-yard touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars), caught the longest touchdown reception, and had the most catches of 20 (30) and 40 or more yards (nine).
Gordon is the first Browns player ever to lead the NFL in receiving yards, and also the first NFL player since St. Louis’ Torry Holt to lead the league in yards and yards-per-game average. He finished the year with the sixth-best yards-per-game average and 10th most single-season receiving yards in NFL history.
After breaking and resetting the franchise record for receiving yards in back-to-back weeks (Nov. 24 against Pittsburgh and Dec. 1 against Jacksonville), Gordon totaled 151 yards and one touchdown, an 80-yard score, against the New England Patriots on Dec. 8, and now owns the NFL records for the most yards in a two-game (498), three-game (623) and four-game stretch (774). His back-to-back 200-yard receiving games against the Steelers and Jaguars were a first in NFL history.
Thomas and Mack were models of consistency in 2013, as both players extended their consecutive games and snaps streaks this season.
Thomas, who last week played in his seventh straight Pro Bowl invitation, something only one other offensive lineman, Richmond Webb of the Miami Dolphins, has been able to accomplish.
Since being selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas has started each of the 112 games and taken 6,923 consecutive snaps. He is tied for the third-longest streak of consecutive starts among active NFL offensive linemen.
Mack joined the Browns as a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and has since started 80 straight games, and begun 4,998 consecutive plays for the team.
“He had one of his best seasons in 2013 while a lot of other left tackles had down seasons or were injured,” Prisco said of Thomas.
He added of Mack, “He is good in the run game and does a nice job in pass protection.”
Ward registered 129 total tackles, 96 solo stops, 33 assists, and 1.5 sacks for 12 lost yards. He also intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a 44-yard touchdown in a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Oct. 3.
Ward also recovered a fumble, which he returned for a 51-yard touchdown against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium on Dec. 15.
“He is especially good in the run game and has improved in coverage,” Prisco said.
WINDS OF CONCERN
Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater has gotten used to kicking in the cold and in snow, but as he prepares to play in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., he is more concerned about another element: wind.
According to ProFootballTalk.com, Prater’s concern focuses on reading the wind.
“You know me, I’m not a huge thinker about too much,” Prater said. “It’s just one of those things where I think no matter what if you hit the ball well, it’s going to go straight and it’s going to go far. I’m not worried about it too much. I don’t think it’s going to be too windy, if anything the winds affects it more than the cold. As long as it’s not too windy, I think we’ll be fine to get the touchbacks, hopefully, limit their return game and I know Britt (punter Britton Colquitt) is going to hang it up there well.”
SHERMAN WANTS TO BE ROLE MODEL
Embroiled in controversy after an impassioned postgame interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews following Seattle’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman used Media Day at Super Bowl XLVIII to talk about what he wants to be: a role model.
“I think kids need a positive role model,” Sherman said, according to ProFootballTallk.com, “and they need to understand that there are more options to the world than what they just see in their neighborhood. Especially the kids in the inner-city, they need to understand that there’s another opportunity, there’s another path that you can take, and I think if those kids take those paths and use those opportunities, they’ll benefit and our future will be very bright.”