As much as DeShone Kizer and Josh Gordon tried to cram as much reps together on the practice field leading up to Sunday’s game against the Chargers, there was no replicating game speed.
The two connected four times for 85 yards on 11 targets in the loss. Some of Kizer’s passes were well-defended by Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward. Others were simply misses, whether it be too short or too long.
It was a byproduct, they said, of simply not playing being on the field together for a real, live game until Sunday. They’ll have that experience under their belt when they take the field this weekend against Green Bay in Gordon’s first game at FirstEnergy Stadium since 2014.
“I think it is going to be a continued learning process of him learning me and me learning him,” Kizer said Wednesday. “From the ability to extend the play for me and him continuing to push later, where he wants the ball and certain things, certain routes that he prefers versus certain leverages, those are things that we will continue to learn from, but we do have a good list of things that we learned from this last week that we will be able to continue to carry onto this week.”
The Browns practice before playing the Green Bay Packers in Week 14.
Kizer said he and Gordon would meet later in the week to watch film together of the good and bad from the loss to Los Angeles. It’s an important session in which the two can learn for the past while simultaneously preparing for a Green Bay defense that is well aware of the impact Gordon can make on a game.
“I know I’m stating the obvious. For someone that has missed significant time playing on Sundays, I think it is a real credit to his personal training and really (coach) Hue (Jackson) and the football team’s ability to get him ready,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “He definitely jumps off the video. I was impressed with his performance, especially the first time out.”
Kizer, Gordon and the Browns, as a whole, believe the second time can be even better.
Gordon broke free from Hayward on a handful of occasions and created the kind of separation necessary for a big play. On one notable play, Kizer sailed his pass a few paces ahead of Gordon, who was free and clear in the middle of the field for a potential touchdown. On another, Kizer’s throw came up just a little short.
“We saw some plays that were left out there,” Jackson said. “I think until they have these game situations and you start to understand Josh’s body language and how he goes about doing things and whether as a quarterback I need to quicken up my drop or stretch my drop or these things, the anticipation when the ball comes out, you are learning. I thought that was a huge learning piece for DeShone yesterday. Hopefully, we will be better because we will practice.
“DeShone will not just let it be just, ‘Let’s go have this normal rep.’ It has to be a real legitimate game, full-speed rep so that you don’t miss those anymore.”
The misses are impactful on a Browns offense with minimal margin for error. So, too, are the missed opportunities by Cleveland’s other receivers, who had minimal production against the Chargers.
Some of those chances were seized by tight ends David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who had their best combined game of the season, but there’s more out there, Jackson said.
“Hopefully, those guys take the next jump, not just so much Josh but our whole passing game because I think Josh’s presence gives everybody else an opportunity to get less pressure on them,” Jackson said. “I think Josh has to continue to grow in our system. I think he is. He sees how we go about doing things. It is up to DeShone to get that rhythm and chemistry with him as we go throughout the rest of this week.”