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Gordon develops as a playmaker

Posted Dec 6, 2013

During the last two weeks, second-year Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has turned in record-setting performances.

Due to a suspension at the beginning of the 2013 regular season because of a failed drug test, second-year Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon began the year trying to earn back the trust of the coaches, his teammates, and the fans.

During the last two weeks, Gordon has turned in record-breaking performances, and in turn, has not only earned back that trust, but also their respect, as well as the attention of opposing teams.

One week after catching 14 passes for a team-record 237 yards and one touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 24, Gordon broke his own franchise mark with a 261-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Over the last two games, Gordon has broken or tied the record for the most receiving yards in a single game (twice), most receptions (14), as well as the NFL records for the most yards in a two-game span (498) and three-game stretch (623). Gordon was the first player in league history to gain 200 or more receiving yards in back-to-back games.

“This year, I’m not as nervous,” Gordon said Thursday. “This year, it doesn’t matter. I’ve done it before. I’ve seen it; I’ve viewed it and I’ve scored. I feel like I can keep on doing it. And I’ve got the mindset that it’s just a game. If I go out there and just do my job, the rest will happen naturally and just fall into place.

“I’m only 22 years old. I’ve got a lot of football ahead. With the maturation process, you can always grow and get better and better. Work ethic can always get better. How you approach each week in practice and the game only comes with experience. I don’t have enough of it to be where I want to be.”

Gordon is 41 yards away from breaking the franchise record for receiving yards in a season and one 200-yard receiving game away from tying the NFL record for the most 200-yard games in a single season.

Although Gordon said he would trade the individual success for victories, he did acknowledge the importance of the record for receiving yards in a single season.

“Individually, it would definitely be a big thing,” Gordon said. “For me to attain a record like that for an entire organization as long as this Cleveland Browns organization has been around is a good thing.”

COMING BACK

In his first game back from the suspension, a 31-27, come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field in the H.H.H. Metrodome on Sept. 22, Gordon turned a then-career-best 10 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown.

But as impressive as Gordon was against the Vikings, what left the biggest impression on his position coach, Scott Turner, was his work ethic leading up to the game.

“He was excited,” Turner said. “He was excited to be back with the team, and then, it’s the same thing you see from everybody on the team Week One and getting ready for the season. You’re playing games, regular-season games, so there’s that energy that just comes from getting ready to go play against an opponent.

“You get that in training camp. The first couple days, there’s an energy. Guys are excited to be back. Then, there’s an energy the first preseason game because you’re going to go play somebody else, and then, you really see it getting ready for the regular season. That’s what it was for Josh because he didn’t get to practice for two weeks.”

Turner felt Gordon’s work throughout the week was the first step in the second-year wide receiver reaching his personal goals.

“He was focused, and he wants to be a great player,” Turner said. “He’s got a quiet personality and everything like that, but he wants to be great and he shows it when he steps between the white lines on Sundays, and that’s his way to kind of expressing himself. You saw him get a little animated after he scored the 95-yard touchdown (against Jacksonville). That’s the most you’ve seen out of him. That’s just the type of guy he is. He’s more of a reserved personality.”

COMPETITION AMONGST BROWNS

Upon returning to the practice field leading up to the Vikings game, and in every week since, Gordon has gotten the opportunity to work against potential Pro Bowl defensive back Joe Haden. The competition, according to Gordon and Turner, have made both players better.

“In the years I’ve been here, we have gotten into a lot of great battles, so I do get a different look in the week that most wide receivers probably wouldn’t get to have and I’m very appreciative for that,” Gordon said of competing against Haden. “It’s really helped me out and groomed me to become a better, more aggressive wide receiver. It definitely can help give me a competitive edge in the game.”

Turner added, “Our guys come out and compete in practice, and in camp. We do one-on-ones with the DBs every Wednesday just for that reason. I think it’s helped Josh. I think it’s helped Joe. Anytime you go against a player of Joe’s level and you get to go against him in practice, it’s obviously going to help, especially the competitor in him as well.”

DEALING WITH CHANGE

In the 10 games Gordon has played this season, he has worked with and caught touchdown passes from three different quarterbacks.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner called Gordon’s production “pretty amazing.”

“The circumstances have been such that he’s gotten a lot of opportunities,” Norv Turner said. “I always tell these guys, ‘When you get these opportunities, make the most of them because there’s going to be games where they’re not going to give you those opportunities. It’s not going to come up the way it has,’ and we’ve had games like that. He’s obviously made the most of those opportunities, and he’s made a lot of plays.

“He’s proven he can be an elite receiver in this league in terms of production because he’s already doing that with the 1,200 yards in the amount of games he’s played. I’ve been around a lot of guys that have had a great game. I’ve been around some guys that have had a great year. The great ones do it week-to-week-to-week. Then, they do it two years in a row, three years in a row, four years in a row.”

PLAYING THE PATRIOTS

With 498 receiving yards in the last two weeks, there is no flying under the radar of opposing coaches, but Gordon said he is “definitely looking forward to this challenge” of playing against cornerback Aqib Talib and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Sunday.

“I hold this team in high regard because of their past, their coaching staff, guys on their team and what they’ve done,” Gordon said. “They might double-team; they might not. If they do give me that look, we’re prepared for it. We’ve been practicing for it, but if they don’t, and they single me up, we plan to exploit it.

“In the NFL, cornerback is a hard position to play. (Talib’s) doing a great job for that defense right now. He’s a very physical, scrappy player, but I’m going to come out there to do the same thing, make plays, try to make sure that nobody can stop me.”