By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Leave it to New York Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. to provide some bulletin-board material and spice up his reunion with the Browns, who traded up one spot to draft him sixth overall in 2004 and will visit MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“Really, they can’t guard me,” Winslow told ESPNNewYork.com. “That’s how I feel, and I can’t be guarded, you know?
“Who’s going to guard me over there? Nobody. That’s how I feel, and that’s how I play the game. That’s how you’ve got to play the game.”
Inside linebacker and defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson had a feeling Winslow would generate some headlines this week. Winslow made the Pro Bowl as a member of the Browns in 2007 and played with them until 2008. At this stage in his career, Winslow, 30, is primarily a role player.
“It’s not a secret K-2 likes to run his mouth a lot, and I’m happy he’s with a team and he’s doing well,” said Jackson, who was Winslow’s teammate for three seasons. … “The guys who are going be on the field, we worry about those guys. He doesn’t play a whole lot, so he’s not going to be much of a threat for us.
“He and I are good friends, and I knew something was going to come out this week from him at some point, so I’m sure I’ll see him during our pregame warm-ups, and we’ll talk. But I’m used to K-2 and his ways.”
Strong safety T.J. Ward, who often covers opposing tight ends, said he “chuckled a little bit” when he first read Winslow’s comments. He insisted he wouldn’t draw any extra motivation from Winslow.
“Some people say things just for shock value,” Ward said. “You could take it [with] grain of salt, you could let it affect your every day going about, but we got a game to play. I’m focused on the same things I was focused on yesterday and the day before, getting us a W, playing my best game and going to New York.”
Winslow has started two of the 10 games in which he has appeared this season, compiling 27 catches for 319 yards and two touchdowns. He served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
“He’s a decent tight end,” Ward said. “He was good in his heyday. He’s a little past his prime, but he’s still a good tight end.”
Inside linebacker Craig Robertson, who could also be matched up with Winslow at times, added: “I don’t care what he said. It shouldn’t be that important.”
Free safety Tashaun Gipson said some players talked about Winslow’s comments during practice Friday, but none of the coaches brought them up. Gipson didn’t put much stock in the quotes, either.
“If Calvin Johnson said it, that’s different,” Gipson said.
Rob Chudzinski was Winslow’s position coach at the University of Miami and with the Browns in 2004. So Chudzinski wasn’t surprised to hear about Winslow declaring no one can cover him.
“He’s thought that for years,” Chudzinski said. “That’s the confidence that you want football players to have.
“He’s very competitive. He’s very talented, has got great hands and understands [the game]. He’s been around the game for a long time.”
During his previous reunion with the Browns, Winslow caught four passes for 32 yards to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prevail 17-14 in the 2010 season opener.
The Browns don’t want to see him get the last laugh again.
“On Sunday, after the game, then we’ll be able to figure out if we were able to guard him, if we weren’t able to guard him,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “So no matter what we say now, it won’t matter.”
Chudzinski said he excused wide receiver Davone Bess from practice Thursday and Friday for personal reasons. Bess is listed as questionable for Sunday. He is dealing with a family issue, a league source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.
Chudzinski said he would have a better idea about Bess’ status Saturday. If Bess doesn’t travel with the team Saturday, a league rule would force the Browns to then officially rule him out for Sunday.
Meanwhile, a photo posted on Bess’ Instagram account Friday morning circulated online and caused a stir. In the photo, which has been deleted along with the Instagram account, Bess is shown sitting outdoors on a deck next to a picture of reggae icon Bob Marley and lighting a cigarette or cigarillo with a Rasta flag draped from his neck.
A Browns spokesman said the team had no comment or information about the photo.
In a swap of draft picks with the Miami Dolphins, the Browns traded for Bess, 28, in April and then signed him to a three-year, $11.5 million contract extension through 2016. His production has since been a disappointment. He has 42 catches for 362 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a league-leading 14 drops, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
If Bess doesn’t face the Jets, Josh Cooper and Greg Little will fill his role as the primary slot receiver, Chudzinski said.
“I’ve definitely got to step up and make the best of my opportunities and contribute as much as I can,” Cooper said. “You’re always auditioning, not just for this team, but every other team sees your film, and what you do on Sundays stays on tape. It’s there. You can’t get rid of it. So however, you play it’s your audition.”
The Browns ruled out starting tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion), starting left guard John Greco (sprained medial collateral ligament in right knee) and tight end Andre Smith (strained calf). … Rookie MarQueis Gray and Gary Barnidge will fill in for Cameron. Jason Pinkston will start in place of Greco. … The NFL did not fine outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard for the roughing the passer penalty he received in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Rookie learning curve
Hudson native and Kent State University product Brian Winters has taken some lumps in his first NFL season, though Jets coach Rex Ryan still believes he’ll pan out as a solid third-round draft pick.
Winters switched from playing left tackle for the Golden Flashes to left guard for the Jets. He has started 10 games and allowed 10 sacks, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
“I’ve been pleased with Brian,” Ryan said this week during a conference call. “Obviously, it’s not easy to come into this league and be a rookie and then be a starting guard in this league. Without question, he’s been tested. Guys are lining up on him. They’re doing all that stuff. But I think he’s going to be really an outstanding player for years to come. He’s getting better. But sometimes he kind of relies on his strength and his technique will get out of whack a little bit. It’s not uncommon for a young player, but he’s a guy that’s ascending. He cares a great deal about it, and I think he’s got a chance to be a good one.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.