Countdown to The Draft
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By: Will Burge
Can’t buy a break – Just when it looked as though the Browns’ defense might be near full strength for the first time all season, another major injury has popped up. Joe Haden, who was limited in practice yesterday with an oblique injury, was not at practice today.
A source close to Haden told me that his injury, while painful and limiting his movement, should not keep him from playing Sunday against the Cowboys. Unfortunately for Joe, the final decision is not his and if he doesn’t practice the rest of the week the coaches may force him to sit.
This is particularly frustrating for a defense that is already without Dimitri Patterson and is finally getting Phil Taylor back at full strength for the first time this season. Safety Usama Young said it would be nice to have everyone out on the field, but that is not the reality.
“You never know (how good we could be if we were all healthy),” said Young. “It’s one of those hypothetical things. You don’t really want to get into the what-if business in this game.”
One good hit deserves another – Rookie receiver Josh Gordon has made a name for himself by making big plays down the field. He has also made a name as being a big, physical blocking presence. On a reverse play against the Baltimore Ravens, Gordon caught a defender with a bone jarring block that sprang Travis Benjamin for a modest gain.
It was a scary hit that the Browns felt was clean. The league told Gordon that it was not a helmet-to-helmet hit. Unfortunately, they also told him that he was fined $20,000 because the hit was delivered to an unsuspecting defender who was looking the opposite way.
Gordon is appealing the fine and does not agree with the ruling.
One thing he can be happy about, however, is an increased presence in the Browns’ game plan. During the bye week the coaches looked at what plays worked best and who should be utilized more often. Gordon’s name obviously came up frequently.
“We have been working on some plays and I am a little bit more involved in the game plan,” said Gordon. “Coming out the past few weeks, a lot of guys were (injured) so I had to step up and make a couple of plays for us. I guess the coaches felt as though we can try to keep that continuing on through the rest of the season.”
Cleaning up the play calling – This season, Brad Childress was hired to help alleviate some of the confusion that plagued the Browns sideline last year. For eight games he did just that. Unfortunately, in game number nine against the Ravens the sideline issues “reared their ugly head” as Childress said. What were those issues and what are the Browns doing to correct them?
“I think we had communication issues,” said Childress. “Whether it be a little indecision, or I wasn’t speaking clearly or Pat (Shurmur) wasn’t speaking clearly, or we were caught on the last play…we just talked about the tempo with which it has got to get in, at what point it’s got to get in and how were going about doing that. Who is talking on the line and when they are talking on the line, those types of things.”
Childress also added that in Philadelphia he and Andy Reid called plays in a similar fashion, so a two man play-calling team is not unheard of. Let’s hope that those issues are cleaned up because burning three timeouts in one game because of play calling is unacceptable.
|Will Burge covers the Browns for ESPNCleveland.com and hosts 3 Deep, Monday - Friday from 7pm-9pm.|
Follow Will on Twitter @WillBurge
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