Browns WR Josh Gordon breaks records, perceptions

TOM WITHERS (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Josh Gordon dresses flashy and he drives a camouflaged Porsche with orange rims, a luxury car the Browns wide receiver believes is one of a kind.

These days, he's pretty exclusive himself.

With a 261-yard performance last week against Jacksonville, Gordon became the first player in NFL history to record consecutive 200-yard games. His 498 yards in the two games is also a league record and his 623 yards over a three-game span is also a league mark.

On Sunday at New England, Gordon can break Cleveland's team record for yards in a season held by Braylon Edwards, who had 1,289 in 2007. Edwards did it in 16 games, while Gordon has racked up 1,249 in just 10 after he was suspended for the first two games this season for violating the league's drug policy.

Like his Porsche, Gordon gets places in a hurry.

And to think, the Browns considered trading him.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon is a sublime mix of speed, size and strength. He's been timed at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash and is all-around athleticism is extraordinary.

At 22, he's just getting started.

''He's a great player,'' said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, never one to throw around too much praise. ''He can attack all three levels of the defense. He can run through them, he can take the short plays, catch-and-run plays, crossing patterns, look patterns, plays like that, quick three-step drops and break tackles.

''He's very good on the intermediate routes, the in-cuts, the crossing routes, comebacks, stop-routes, things like that that attack the middle levels of the defense. He's a complete player that can run fast, catch, big target and make a lot of yards on his own after the catch with his speed, size and running ability.''

Gordon's deception speed was never more evident than last Sunday, when he turned a routine in-route into a jaw-dropping, 95-yard touchdown. After catching Brandon Weeden's pass, Gordon broke one tackle and then outran two Jacksonville defenders, pulling further away from them with every stride.

''Once he caught it, nobody was catching him,'' Browns cornerback Joe Haden said of the teammate he refers to as ''J.G.''

Along with breaking records, the humble Gordon is smashing perceptions about him.

Because of his drug suspension, and a documented pattern of substance abuse in college, Gordon was branded as too risky for most teams before the Browns selected him in last year's supplemental draft. An offseason slip-up seemed to validate that thinking but Gordon has been a model citizen this season, showing signs he has grown up and learned from his mistake.

During training camp, there was criticism that he wasn't working hard enough, coasting.

''Apparently what I do on the field, it's backing itself up,'' he said before Thursday's practice. ''So people say I'm loafing, but I feel as though I'm going 100 percent out there on the field. So people will perceive or hear rumors and believe what they want to believe because of whatever negativity has been surrounding me but I really pay not attention to it.''

Despite making history the past two weeks, Gordon would gladly trade his individual accomplishments for wins.

''For the team, the record in the win column is a lot more valuable to the city, to this organization,'' he said. ''It would mean a lot more because the records could be broken by anybody at any given time.''

Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been impressed with Gordon's growth.

He, too, scoffs at the idea Gordon isn't giving 100 percent and said the 95-yard TD is proof the second-year player doesn't take any plays off.

''That's why I don't pay any attention to the all the people that come in here for one or two days in August and they complained the guy doesn't work hard, he doesn't run routes, he doesn't finish,'' Turner said. ''He had already caught nine balls for 150 yards. I didn't see him not run a route full speed, and he goes 95 yards and pulls away from some pretty fast guys.

''So all this August talk is just talk. He's a young player that's maturing and getting a lot better and I think he can really get a lot better. We just need to keep working the way we've been working and he's been working.''

Gordon may have to work harder than ever on Sunday.

Belichick likes to take away a team's strengths, so New England's defensive game plan is likely to be focused on stopping Gordon - or at least trying.

Patriots cornerback Agib Talib will likely be matched on Gordon. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Talib held Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a season-low 41 yards and didn't give up a reception to Saints tight end Jimmy Graham before leaving with an injury in the second half.

''He's a real physical, scrappy player,'' Gordon said of Talib. ''But I'm going to come out there and do the same, go out there and make plays myself and try to make sure that nobody can stop me. I'm pretty sure he'll make some plays, but I'm definitely going to make more plays.''


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