BEREA — In his first practice, Josh Gordon caught the attention of Browns fans. Nearly 3,000 fans showed up despite threatening skies and scattered thunderstorms to see the Browns on display for the first time.
After he caught a pass from Colt McCoy in 11-on-11, the crowd cheered wildly for him.
“This feels like a place that I definitely want to call home,” Gordon said after practice about fans cheering for him.
Pat Shurmur has been pleased with Gordon’s ability to pick things up.
“He’s really a fine learner and he was a little faster (today).”
Shurmur said due to the rules the defensive backs weren’t allowed to bump-and-run in the OTAs and minicamps, so this is the first time the receivers have been challenged. Shurmur said Joe Haden went up and hit Gordon at the line and reported back to Shurmur.
“He has great size and didn’t have to deal with the bump-and-run in college,” Shurmur said. “In this league, you get challenged. Joe came back to the sideline and said ‘Wow, this is a big sucker’.”
Shurmur feels training camp and going up against the likes of Haden and Sheldon Brown, will really help Gordon in his transition to the NFL.
“He needs to see some of these things in training camp,” Shurmur said. “This is where receivers start getting challenged.”
Gordon said he saw some bump-and-run in college, but not at the NFL level.
“I got to see some bump-and-run in college, but in the NFL everybody does it,” he said. “I don’t see it being a problem.”
Shurmur said that at Utah where Gordon was last season, he practiced in the West Coast offense.
“A lot of the offense (at Utah) was like our (offense),” Shurmur said. “He’s a fine learner. He’s picking up things quickly.”
“I see a lot of similarities in the offense to what Utah did,” he said. “They ran the West Coast offense there and I feel very comfortable picking (the Browns offense) up.”
Haden and Brown have been impressed with what they’ve seen from Gordon thus far.
“He’s really good,” Haden said. “He’s strong. The only thing for him is making all his routes look the same (to not give away what he’s doing).”
“He’s a talented player,” Brown said. “The biggest thing for him is mentally being able to execute.”
Gordon knows he’s far from a finished product.
“Of course, I’ve behind the guys drafted (in April), but I feel I’m learning pretty fast,” Gordon said. “I know I need to run more precise routes.”
Rubin, Moore Out: DL Ahtyba Rubin and DL Phil Taylor were placed on active PUP list with non-disclosed injuries. TE Evan Moore was placed on the Non-Football Injury list. DB Trevin Wade and WR Carlton Mitchell were on the exercise bike during practice. Shurmur said that Wade and Mitchell were dealing with “a leg thing”.
Shurmur wouldn’t disclose Rubin and Moore’s injuries, but did say they weren’t serious.
“They will be back real soon, in a couple of days,” he said. “Of course, Taylor will be extended.”
There were reports that Rubin had a procedure to repair a slight pelvis tear a few weeks ago, but Shurmur wouldn’t confirm it.
In the place of last year’s starters, Rubin and Taylor, were veterans Brian Schaefering and Scott Paxon.
“Schaefering and Paxson worked with the first team in place of Rubin and Taylor,” Shurmur said.”They’re veteran guys you like to have around.
“They work very hard and now their roles are expanded with the others out.”
Schwartz Moves to One: Second-round draft choice Mitchell Schwartz practiced with the first unit at right tackle in Saturday’s practice and Shurmur expects it to stay that way.
“He’s coming along well,” Shurmur said. “We anticipate he’ll be our starter at (right tackle).
“He knows what to do,” he said. “With pads, we’ll see if he takes the next step, but we think he’ll be up for it.”
Plan for Fujita: LB Scott Fujita has been working with the first team but he’s facing a suspension for the first three games due to his role in the Saints bounty scandal. Shurmur said the coaches have a plan in place to replace him.
“We’re working on a plan to sub for Fujita for first three games.
“We’re quietly working on that right away,” Shurmur said. “We know we’ll lose Scott for a few games. We’re getting guys in there.”
It is expected that LB Chris Gocong will replace Fujita at strong side linebacker as he did last year and that LB Kaluka Maiava will step in a weak side. It is expected that rookies James-Michael Johnson and Emmanual Acho might also be in the mix for playing time.
Lerner Sighting: A day after news came out that Randy Lerner was in the process of selling the Browns to Jimmy Haslam, Lerner was out on the field watching practice with Mike Holmgren.
“He was out watching practice,” Shurmur said. “We haven’t talked any more other than it’s the beginning of the process.”
Big Crowd: Despite thunderstorms that delayed the start of practice, 2,937 fans braved the weather to watch the Browns first practice open to the public. The Browns said that figure was larger than any amount that showed up in 2011 training camp at Berea.
Shurmur said making sure fans got to watch “their team” factored into the team keeping practice outside. The Browns are scheduled to practice Sunday from 8:45 to 11:15 am.
Versatile Brad: Shurmur said that FB Brad Smelley will play both tight and fullback, even though he’s listed on the roster as a fullback.
When asked, Shurmur said:
“Both,” he said. “He can do those things. He’s played in the backfield.”