BEREA — Coach Hue Jackson hasn’t decided if he’ll remove receiver Kenny Britt from the starting lineup following what Jackson labeled an “inexcusable” drop in the fourth quarter of the 21-18 opening loss to the Steelers.
“No, we will just go through the week,” Jackson said Wednesday. “All of our guys, there are some things that we want to see them do better and we will work through that this week and make decisions about where we are as we get closer to gametime.”
Jackson said Monday that Britt wasn’t guaranteed to remain in the lineup. Britt said Wednesday he wasn’t aware of Jackson’s comments.
“Mmm. Mmm. Things happen,” he said when the remarks were conveyed.
Reporters have to leave practice before team drills, so it’s unknown if Britt remained with the starters. During position drills, Britt went last among the receivers, taking off his helmet between turns and occasionally kneeling.
Britt had an interesting, and sometimes intense, exchange with reporters for about three minutes in the locker room before practice.
Do you expect to be starting?
“I don’t expect anything,” Britt said.
“Do you think you should be starting?
“You earn that spot, right?” he said.
Do you think you’ve earned it?
“I earn everything that I got in my life,” he said.
Britt, 28, signed a four-year, $32.5 million deal, including $17 million guaranteed, in March to join the Browns as a free agent. He has 310 career catches for 4,894 yards and 30 touchdowns in 105 games over nine seasons.
He had a poor preseason in his introduction to Cleveland. He failed to get two feet inbounds in the back of the end zone for an incompletion instead of a touchdown, dropped a pass inside the 10-yard line and couldn’t beat man coverage near the goal line.
The second-and-19 drop against Pittsburgh on a perfectly thrown ball by rookie DeShone Kizer on an in route added to the early doubts about Britt, who caught one pass for 13 yards.
“What happened on the drop? It dropped. You seen what happened,” he said. “I’ve got one drop this year.
“I think it was magnified because of the point of the game. Of course, we needed all the plays, especially when you’re down by a couple points.”
How important is it to put the drop in the past?
“I’m not talking about it. You all talking about it,” he said. “It’s been behind me. That’s nine years in the league, you don’t get there for no reason. You’ve got Hall of Famers who have dropped balls.”
Starting right guard Kevin Zeitler didn’t practice following surgery on his right thumb, but Jackson said he will play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
“He’s not going to miss any time,” Jackson said. “I do know that.”
Zeitler was injured against the Steelers and had a black cast that went most of the way up his forearm Wednesday as he worked on the side with trainers during the portion of practice open to the media. The Browns are hoping he will be able to practice Thursday or Friday.
“I think he’ll be right back out here very quickly, hopefully tomorrow,” Jackson said. “I think Kevin will be up and ready to go.”
Zeitler may have to wear a protective covering on the hand against the Ravens and their stout defensive line.
Zeitler, 27, became the league’s highest-paid guard in March when he signed a five-year, $60 million contract, including $31.5 million guaranteed. He spent the first five years of his career in Cincinnati.
Spencer Drango, a fifth-round pick last year, would likely replace Zeitler if he couldn’t play.
Jackson walked into the media room as the Indians were completing their 21st straight victory.
“I’d like to get on a streak like that,” he said. “Monument time.
“I will take half of that right now,” he added later. “They have done an outstanding job and my hat is off to them. Everything they have done, they are on their way back again. They have great management. They have done a great job acquiring other players. They are what it is all about.
“This city is rocking now, there is no question. We have had the Cavs, we have the Indians. Come on, Browns, let’s go.”
Suspended receiver Josh Gordon is nearing the end of a three-month stint in a rehab facility and hopes to be reinstated by the NFL from the indefinite drug suspension that has kept him off the field for 44 of the last 49 games, former Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery told Cleveland.com.
“He’s coming,” said Montgomery, who’s working with Gordon. “I think he’s going to be there this season.”
Gordon’s latest application for reinstatement was denied by the NFL in May and he was told he could reapply in the fall. He checked into rehab June 21 for a 90-day stay, his fourth known trip to rehab.
Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t said if he’ll approve Gordon’s request, and the Browns haven’t said if they’ll welcome him back if he’s reinstated. Gordon was within a week of coming off suspension last season when he left the team and checked himself into rehab.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expects big things from the Browns this year.
“That is a really good defense,” he told reporters in Pittsburgh. “That team is going to surprise a lot of people. I am glad we played them Game 1.”
** Receiver Kasen Williams said he should’ve made the play on a pivotal incompletion against the Steelers. He drifted out of bounds at the 7-yard line on a throw from Kizer that was outside of the target.
“I can make that catch all day,” Williams said.
** Jackson said he’ll pick the backup quarterback for the Ravens game later in the week. Kevin Hogan was the No. 2 for the opener, and Cody Kessler was inactive.
** Defensive end Myles Garrett (ankle) didn’t practice. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton (knee) was limited.
** For the Ravens, running back Danny Woodhead (thigh) is out. Safety Eric Weddle didn’t practice with an illness.