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Back in a flash: Analyzing Josh Gordon's progress through 2 games


Through two games with Josh Gordon back in the lineup, 29 has equaled 15, and that's OK with Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine.

Twenty-nine throws in Gordon's direction have resulted in 15 catches for 195 yards, good for an average of 13 yards per reception. That's down nearly 6 yards from last year, but there's been little difference in the number of times Cleveland's quarterbacks are looking his way. Gordon's 87 receptions in 2013 were the result of 159 targets.

Too much of a good thing? Quarterback Brian Hoyer tackled that question Monday, one day removed from Gordon catching seven of the 13 passes directed at him for 75 yards.

"No, I don't think so," Hoyer said Monday. "I think even in yesterday's game I don't remember forcing one ball to Josh. I can't recall one to be honest with you, so no, I don't think so."

Two hours later, Pettine said he preferred not to get lost in the numbers while acknowledging the obvious: Gordon is a talented player who finds openings, no matter the coverage, and entices the quarterback -- whoever it is -- to throw him the ball.

"I can't just talk on a number whether 29 is too much or not," Pettine said. "There were a couple of plays where the read maybe should have taken the ball elsewhere, but when you have a guy of his ability, I think that might be a quarterback's natural tendency to want to go there with the ball. I can't speak on whether that's too much."

With veteran Miles Austin's status up in the air for Sunday's game against Indianapolis because of a kidney injury, it's probably safe to assume there won't be much dropoff in the attention Gordon receives from both his quarterback and the opposing defense. Making it even more of a possibility: The Colts are 25th in the league in pass defense and have allowed at least one receiver to clear 100 yards in three of their past five games.

If the yards come, they come. Pettine directed little focus toward Gordon's 195 receiving yards when he fielded questions about the 6-foot-3 receiver at his Monday press conference. Instead, when assessing his improvement from his 2014 debut against the Atlanta Falcons to what he did against the Bills, the Browns coach looked at some of the intangibles.

"I thought he played hard. I thought he blocked," Pettine said. "Just kind of comparing his blocking from his past to last week and even more so, I thought he was very aggressive. I thought he finished some runs well, his physicality and his intensity."

It was at that point in his answer when Pettine shifted directions. While Gordon's return has been welcomed and viewed as something that could only help the struggling Browns' offense, there's still plenty of work to do.

The 11 yards Gordon gained on his first catch of the game ultimately resulted in a loss of 4, as the third-year receiver was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I was upset with the penalty," Pettine said. "I don't think there's a place for that."

Hoyer's interception late in the first half came as a result of a miscommunication with Gordon. Hoyer threw where Gordon was supposed to be, but the only player there was Bills safety Da'Norris Searcy.

Hoyer said Gordon promptly came up to him after the play and said, "that's my fault."

"It's just one of those things where in the heat of the battle everything has got to be perfect," Hoyer said. "You can't have one missed step. When you're expecting one thing and you react and do it … we've got to get on the same page."

Gordon showed off some chemistry with rookie Duke Johnson Jr. in Sunday's fourth quarter when he caught an 18-yard pass on the Browns' only scoring drive of the game. If a change is made at quarterback, practice time this week becomes even more vital for Gordon as he continues to work his way back into rhythm with the offense.

An effort like last week's would go a long way.

"From a sense of urgency and how physical he was," Pettine said, "overall we were pleased."

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