The Browns will make more of an effort this weekend in New Orleans to get the ball to one of their best players.
Cleveland hopes to create more opportunities for star wide receiver Josh Gordon, who hauled in just one pass on three targets during Sunday's 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"No doubt," head coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday. "Josh, when he's going like we know he can, he has an opportunity to make plays. He has to continue to work to begin in the right spot. We have to give him opportunities, and I think that we will do that."
Still, Gordon, who missed most of training camp on a leave of absence to focus on his recovery from addiction, made the most of those limited chances. His lone reception was a 17-yard touchdown that tied the game with 1:58 to play in regulation. And as starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor and an offense filled with new faces continue to find their footing, the Browns expect Gordon to play a bigger role moving forward.
"We can do a better job of getting him the ball and getting him opportunities to make plays," Taylor said. "That starts with myself."
Gordon, meanwhile, understands he'll have to do his part, too. Part of that, Jackson said, is predicated on Cleveland's receivers being in the right place at the right time. Gordon's quiet afternoon also meant Taylor managed to get other standouts — Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Carlos Hyde, David Njoku and Duke Johnson — involved in the process. "It can be a distraction for the defense to be focused on me and allowing Jarvis to get open, allowing Rashard to get open, allowing the run game to develop," Gordon said. "If that was the case, then I have no issue with it."
Gordon added he wasn't focused on individual statistics and didn't even realize he'd been thrown to three times until after the game. "I think I went out there and served my purpose and did whatever I was supposed to do, whether it was distract the safety, get somebody else open," he said.
"More than anything, I didn't even think about the targets until somebody mentioned that at the end of the game. I'm just going to keep on running until I have the opportunity."
Sunday marked Gordon's first season opener since his rookie season in 2012, having been on and off the field since because of multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy. He returned in December from a multiyear suspension, catching 18 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown in five games last season.
Gordon, who used most of August to refocus himself, is expected to play a critical role in an offense that stands to be much improved from a year ago. The unit struggled against the Steelers, but believes it'll take a leap forward this weekend in New Orleans. To a certain extent, Jackson said, that starts with getting Gordon and the Browns' playmakers the ball more.
"What we can do is move forward, and we got to put the ball in our guys' hands this week, and give them an opportunity to make plays, " he said.
"That's what the offense is designed to do and that is what we are going to try and accomplish."