BEREA: Browns Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron is being guided through the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Cameron left the game Sunday with a concussion —his third documented one in less than two years — with 7:31 left in the second quarter. He caught a 21-yard pass over the middle from Brian Hoyer and took a shot from safety Brandian Ross.
“I don’t know where he was today, as far as symptoms, but you don’t even start the clock until they’re ‘symptom-free,’?” Pettine said. “I know he won’t go today, and that’ll be a day-to-day thing based on where he is.”
Though the team will miss Cameron’s skills at the position, two guys on the roster can and have combined to take up some of the slack.
Jim Dray, a fifth-year player acquired through free agency who played for the Arizona Cardinals, has caught nine balls for 118 yards for 13.1 yards per catch with a touchdown. Gary Barnidge, who the Browns signed prior to last season, has five catches for 56 yards for 10.8 yards per catch.
“Gary and I have been around for a long time and hopefully, collectively, we can pick up some of the slack, but it’s going to be hard to,” Dray said Wednesday afternoon at the team’s practice facility.
Pettine expressed confidence in the two when asked about them.
“He and Gary [Barnidge] both mean a lot, and Jim’s been the ultimate professional,” Pettine said. “He’s come in, hardly says a word and just all he does is work. He’s very interactive, very intelligent, very interactive with the staff; I think does a real good job with his preparation.”
Each has delivered big for the team. Dray came up with a 16-yard catch-and-run Sunday against the Oakland Raiders to help set up a touchdown.
“It’s easy when you’re wide open. That was [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] scheming and game planning,” Dray said. “I just ran the route that he called and no one was around and Gary was blocking down field for me. It wasn’t anything crazy.”
Earlier in the season, Barnidge delivered a 10-yard catch on fourth-and-6 from the Browns’ 38 to keep alive a drive for a game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints. Cameron also missed that game, so the team has shown it can win without him on the field.
Pettine said Dray and Barnidge are similar players, but Barnidge said all three tight ends share similarities.
“Everybody can catch the ball and block,” Barnidge said. “People try to put roles on everybody. They think Jim’s a blocker or I’m a blocker. Jordan’s a catcher. But everybody can do everything. That’s what a lot of people don’t understand.”
Barnidge said camaraderie exists in the tight end position room and that will extend to Ryan Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 254-pounder the team claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens earlier this week.
“We all help each other in everything that we can do because we want to make each other better,” he said. “We want to be the best tight end room. It’s not about one person. I don’t think we have any guys who care about numbers. We just want to win. We want to enjoy ourselves. We want to enjoy what we’re doing. If everybody in your room is doing well, you can’t be upset with it.”
In the meantime, there’s a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for which they must prepare. Given Cameron’s status, there might be some pressure involved, correct?
“I’ve been around long enough to know if that if you don’t do your job, you’re out of here anyway,” Dray said, “so all I can worry about is doing my job.”
Winn says he’s ready
The Browns could get some much needed defensive line help this weekend with the return of Billy Winn, who sat out the past three games with a quadriceps injury he suffered against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 5.
Pettine said the defensive end is at full strength, and Winn could have a significant role in Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.
“I wouldn’t say they need me to fill a prominent role, but they know they’re going to get my best,” Winn said. “They know that I’m going to go out there and do what’s asked of me and hopefully we come out with a W.”
Given that the Browns are without injured defensive ends Phil Taylor, Armonty Bryant and John Hughes, his return is welcomed. After Wednesday’s practice, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Winn pronounced himself 100 percent.
“It just feels good to get back out there and fly around with the guys and talk a little smack, have a little fun in practice,” he said. “Everything felt good. It felt really good.”
While Winn is expected to return, Taylor is making progress toward coming back, hitting the exercise bike during an open portion of practice for the first time since undergoing knee surgery.
Taylor called it a positive step, but said he’s still taking things day by day. When asked if he knew when he would return, he said that was a question for the coaches
Run game targeted
Browns starting running back Ben Tate said he can see what other teams are doing to stop the team’s running game.
Both Jacksonville and the Oakland Raiders sold out to stop the run, and were extremely successful. The Jaguars held the Browns to 69 rushing yards in a 24-6 victory on Oct. 19 and the Raiders allowed just 39 in the Browns’ 23-13 win last weekend.
“I definitely think they have an emphasis on not letting us run the ball. I could tell they were very focused on that, especially Oakland,” Tate said. “It’s going to be hard with a team coming in focusing on the run, but I still believe you have to find a way.”
Would he abandon the running game?
“I’m not sure. Honestly if we’re not getting it done running and we’re getting it done passing the ball it doesn’t bother me one bit,” Tate said. “As long as we are moving the ball and putting up points.
“I can understand as a coordinator if you run 20 run plays and you’re averaging one yard per carry. Because I’d be like, ‘forget it,’ too.”
Browns sign DB
The Browns signed defensive back Marcus Cromartie to the practice squad, the team announced Wednesday.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Cromartie is in his first NFL season out of Wisconsin.
Cromartie signed with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and spent the first 15 weeks of his rookie season on their practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster for the final two games but was inactive.
He is a cousin of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie and New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Browns elected cornerback Johnson Bademosi as the team’s representative to the NFLPA. Inside linebacker Craig Robertson and outside linebacker Paul Kruger were selected as alternates.
Cameron (concussion), wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring), Taylor (knee) and left tackle Joe Thomas (rest) did not participate in practice. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) was limited.