By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: The Browns pulled wide receiver Josh Gordon out of team drills early in the fifth full-squad practice of training camp Monday because he’s dealing with patellar tendinitis in a knee, coach Rob Chudzinski said.
“He started out, tried to push through it, but we pulled him and sat him down for the rest of practice,” Chudzinski said. “I’m not concerned about it. It shouldn’t be too big of a deal.”
Chudzinski said there wasn’t a specific incident in practice that caused Gordon, the team’s No. 1 receiver, to suffer patellar tendinitis.
“No, it had been bothering him,” Chudzinski said.
When asked whether Gordon will undergo an MRI, Chudzinski said, “We’ll see about that. Again, I’m not concerned about it. It doesn’t look to be too serious, but I’ll let you know [today] on that. And obviously as far as reps, we want our guys to get as many reps as possible.”
Early in practice, a coach yelled at Gordon to finish a drill with hustle, but he walked. Chudzinski said Gordon didn’t run because of the patellar tendinitis.
The NFL suspended Gordon for the first two games of the regular season for violating its substance-abuse policy. Gordon blamed prescribed cough medicine that contained codeine for triggering a failed drug test. The NFL classifies codeine as a banned substance.
So the Browns know they won’t have Gordon for their Sept. 8 opener against the Miami Dolphins or their Sept. 15 showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. But they certainly hope he’s healthy enough to play the other 14 games.
As a rookie last season, Gordon compiled 50 receptions for a team-high 805 yards and five touchdowns. His 16.1 yards per catch ranked eighth in the NFL among players with at least 32 receptions.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer entered camp third on the depth chart, but he and fellow backup Jason Campbell have shared reps with the second-team offense throughout the first five sessions while projected starter Brandon Weeden has taken all the first-team snaps.
Hoyer insists he’s not concerned with where he stands in the pecking order.
“I’m not too worried about it right now,” said Hoyer, a St. Ignatius High School graduate. “I’m just worried about when I get in there, taking advantage of the reps that I get. Nothing’s been said to us, so just come out here and compete every day. For me, I always have that mentality that you’re competing to be the starting quarterback. I had that same mentality when I was in New England, and I was behind Tom Brady. So you’ve always got to have that mentality as a quarterback. You’ll always want to be the one out on the field, and you’ve got to practice and prepare like it.”
Hoyer, who signed with the Browns in May, said he’s been a quick study under offensive coordinator Norv Turner. It’s the fourth system Hoyer has learned in less than a year.
“It’s coming along great,” Hoyer said. “I’m starting to get in the rhythm of calling the plays and as I’m calling them, realizing what I’m calling them. Whereas before, I had to call it, think about it, and then get up to the line and try to figure it out. But it’s going great. When you get this much work at it and you’re watching the plays on the field, watching it in the film room, getting to actually do the plays, you’re able to learn pretty quickly.”
Offensive left tackle Joe Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in each of six NFL seasons, but he said individual accolades wouldn’t compare to appearing in the playoffs for the first time in his career. Thomas conceded he has thought about whether that day will ever come.
“You wonder a little bit, but obviously the mindset is positive, you’re going to get there, you’re going to be able to enjoy it,” Thomas said. “I think about the day of me running out the tunnel in Cleveland Browns Stadium for a home playoff game. That’s my dream, and that’s why I show up every day. You talk to guys that go through it and guys don’t even appreciate it. Guys from New England and Indianapolis and those teams, they just take it for granted that they’re going every year and they’re getting to experience those things. But that’s what this game’s all about.”
Thomas said there would be a void on his resume if he doesn’t make the postseason.
“It’d be hard,” Thomas said. “I grew up playing football since I was 12 years old. At every level, I’ve been on winning teams pretty consistently. I never experienced a losing season till my second season in the NFL. So obviously that would be a huge disappointment. It’s no fun playing in the NFL when you’re going 4-12 every year. It’s just not. It’s drudgery. It’s like covering a team that’s 4-12. It sucks. What else can you say? I mean you have to go do your job, but everybody wants to be a on a winning team, and that’s why I show up every day.”
Chudzinski indicated kickers Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay are dueling for one roster spot.
“We’re really looking for one [kicker],” Chudzinski said. “I’m not going to say outright that there’s no way we would keep two. But obviously one is ideal.”
Graham earned the right to kick for the first-team offense Monday by winning a kickoff duel against Bogotay during warm-ups. Graham made a 43-yard field goal and Bogotay nailed a 48-yard attempt at the end of their respective two-minute drills.
“It’s a pretty tight competition,” Chudzinski said. “They’re both really doing well. So, again, we’ll continue to work through that and into the preseason games.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will visit the Browns’ headquarters Thursday for a “Heads Up Football” youth clinic run by the Pop Warner program and USA Football. The clinic is designed to further advance youth player safety. ... The Browns will hold a regular practice, not an intrasquad scrimmage, Saturday during Family Night at FirstEnergy Stadium, Chudzinski said. The practice is scheduled to run from 6:30-9 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
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.