BEREA — Josh Gordon will be suspended for the first four weeks of the regular season, yet there he was Sunday as a regular part of the receiver rotation with the first-team offense. He caught passes from Robert Griffin III and lined up alongside Corey Coleman, Terrelle Pryor and Joe Thomas.
Coach Hue Jackson doesn’t care that Gordon is taking away repetitions from someone eligible to play the first four weeks — Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel or rookie Rashard Higgins.
“What is important is that I don’t really know him yet as a football player,” Jackson said. “I’m learning and I need to see what he is able to do. He is talented, obviously. He has a lot of talent.
“The more I can see him and feel him — because he will be away — the more I can understand when he gets back and he can hit the ground running the right way. It is important for him to be with the ones because I think he is going to be one of our better players. We have to put him out there and see what he is capable of doing.”
Gordon had a productive Sunday, getting open often and catching several passes. He returned to practice last week after reporting to training camp with a quadriceps injury, and did not play all of last season because of his latest drug suspension.
“He still looks the exact same and it’s just crazy,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “He looks a little bigger. I don’t know how that happened, but he’s still out there running around, looking the same, running his routes, floating, it still looks effortless.”
Gordon is expected to play Friday against Tampa Bay, along with Coleman, a rookie who sat out the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury.
“Haven’t played in an NFL game so I think it’s important this week to go and practice against Tampa, play in the game and do what I need to do,” Coleman said.
“It would be fun to watch all those guys and see the different pieces, but we have to get them there,” Jackson said. “It is important for them to be out there.”
Nose tackle Danny Shelton is the 335-pound man in the middle, so he feels responsible when the run defense struggles, like it did in the first two preseason games.
“That always hits me and even last year it always hit me,” he said. “I’m always the guy who thinks higher of our defense and thinks higher of himself. I need to be at a certain level and the defense needs to be at a certain level.
“When we don’t perform like that, it hurts me. But at the same time, it’s given us the opportunity to respond, given us an opportunity to regroup as a defense and find these little things that we need to work on and continue to grow.”
Shelton was the only starter to play into the third quarter Thursday against the Falcons, a sign the coaching staff hasn’t been satisfied with his play.
“They’re expecting more and at the same time I’m expecting more,” he said. “It’s just little details, getting off blocks, staying in gaps, wrapping up tackles, Day One football things.
“I think that I’ve been improving. I definitely can do better.”
Haden didn’t sound optimistic that nickelback K’Waun Williams will return to the team. Williams needs ankle surgery, according to his agent, but the team suspended him last week for two weeks for violations of team rules after he didn’t play against Green Bay in the preseason opener and left the team.
“I really don’t really know too much of the situation,” Haden said. “I just hope that everything clears out. K’Waun was one of my really good friends on the team.
“Just tough situation. You gotta really love this to be here. It’s a lot of hours, a lot of things you have to put into it and if you’re not all-in to it, then it’s not no one’s place to tell you what you want to do. I’m here for K’Waun whatever he wants to do, but we’ve just got to keep moving on with who we’ve got here.”
Running back Duke Johnson left practice early, walking off the field with an athletic trainer. He was tested for a concussion and cleared.
Thomas (back), the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle, was a limited participant in team drills after not practicing last week or playing against the Falcons.
Receiver Andrew Hawkins (hamstring) practiced for the first time since Aug. 2. He was limited to individual drills.
Quarterback Austin Davis (concussion) practiced for the first time since the preseason opener Aug. 12 in Green Bay.
Defensive end John Hughes practiced for the first time since Aug. 1 after leaving for personal reasons. He returned to the team Tuesday.
Rookie receiver Ricardo Louis (hamstring), rookie cornerback Trey Caldwell (hamstring), running back Glenn Winston (shoulder, illness) and defensive lineman Nile Lawrence-Stample (shoulder) didn’t practice.
The Browns signed receiver Josh Boyce (5-foot-11, 205 pounds), a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2013. He has three starts in 10 games with nine catches for 121 yards. Boyce spent most of the offseason with the Colts, who waived him Tuesday. He played with Griffin at Copperas Cove (Texas) High School.
On Saturday, the Browns signed running back Jahwan Edwards (5-9, 220). He was undrafted in 2015 and spent time on the practice squads of Atlanta, Jacksonville and Miami. He’s Ball State’s career leader in rushing yards (4,558) and rushing touchdowns (51).
Receiver Dennis Parks (knee) was waived/injured.
Coleman said he knows Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston after playing on a national all-star team with him in high school.
Tight end J.P. Holtz practiced at fullback.
Cornerback Eric Patterson intercepted Griffin on a pass behind Gordon over the middle. The ball went off Gordon’s hands.
Safety Sean Baker intercepted Davis after Patterson tipped it.
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