The Cleveland Browns could be without wide receiver Josh Gordon for the entire 2014 season if the NFL decides to drop the hammer on him. The Browns are still waiting to find out what the punishment for Gordon will be, and head coach Mike Pettine broke down the wide receiver situation and provided some insight on free agent signee Miles Austin’s status.
“I don’t think you replace Josh, a guy of his caliber,” Pettine said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “If you just look at what he did last year, he’s arguably one of the top three receivers in the league. You can easily make that argument. You’re not going to find somebody, so you just have to get creative in how you do it. We feel good about where Miles Austin is health wise, we’re very pleased with how Andrew Hawkins came out of camp, and then Nate Burleson will be ready to go and then we have some guys we think will be ready to battle it out.
“Charles Johnson’s coming back, he’s coming off the ACL, but he’s now full-go. We hope to have Travis Benjamin back and ready to go. We might hold him at the beginning but that’s more just being cautious than anything. He’s almost fully recovered and we’ll know a little bit better when he gets his physical.
“So it will definitely be a committee approach and then you can do some things scheme-wise to make up for it. Maybe fewer groupings with multiple receivers. that’s where adding a (tight end) Jim Dray and having a veteran like Gary Barnidge helps you. You can use the versatility now of Jordan (Cameron), moving him around a little bit. There’s a lot of ways to work around it, knowing ‘hey, we’re not going to replace that guy but we’re going to get creative in how we work around it.”
Austin has battled hamstring issues over the last few seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and hasn’t been able to stay on the field consistently. The Browns are hoping he can stay healthy and regain that form they were accustomed to in the past.