Tight ends embrace opportunity

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Cleveland Browns tight ends MarQueis Gray and Gary Barnidge recognize the opportunity they have to make plays with Jordan Cameron unable to practice because of a concussion.

Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron suffered a concussion in Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Chicago Bears, and was unable to practice Wednesday as the team began its preparations for this week’s game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Cameron’s absence at practice means more opportunities to make plays for veteran Gary Barnidge and rookie MarQueis Gray.

“Another guy’s got to step up,” Barnidge said. “That’s how it is. Injuries happen every year, so somebody’s got to step up and we’ll be fine. All of our tight ends can. That’s why it’s going to be a team effort.

“I think all of our tight ends are gifted. Everybody in the room, we’re all good.”

Gray added, “They just told me this morning that I was probably going to get a lot more playing time, and that means I need to stay in my playbook, make sure I know what I’m going to be doing so I can help this team come out of the losing and do as much as I can to help us win Sunday.”

This season, Barnidge has gained 104 yards and scored two touchdowns on 11 receptions, while Gray’s biggest impact has been felt running the ball out of the wildcat formation. He has accounted for 39 yards on five carries, including two rushes for 30 yards against the Bears.

“Those are the types of plays I was able to make in college,” Gray said. “Those are the plays I was used to, running the zone read, options and stuff because that’s what our offense was. I love those plays and the coaches know that. That’s why they put them in.”

Barnidge added, “I just feel like I can run block, I can catch, I can pass block, and all of our tight ends can do that. It’s not just one guy. Everybody can do it. MarQueis can do it. Keavon Milton can do it. Andre (Smith) can do it. Jordan can do it.”

In addition to preparing for a larger role within the Browns’ offense, Gray has had to learn how to play tight end. A former college quarterback and wide receiver, Gray was switched to tight end and special-teams contributor while in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year.

“It’s been going pretty well,” Gray said. “Not many quarterbacks come out of college and play tight end their first year going against the best, day-in and day-out. It’s one of those things where you have to come to work every day with the mindset that you’ve got to get better and everything’s not going to go your way. It’s one of those things I have to continue to work on.

“It’s one of things I had to do over the years. It’s something that I’ve been working on, playing multiple positions, and I’m blessed to be able to do this.”

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