In fact, Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib drew the comparison between Gordon and Johnson, widely recognized as the best receiver in football.
"He reminds me of one of those names, the Calvin Johnsons, the Andre Johnsons, a bigger guy with little-guy quickness," he said. "He can turn an eight-yard curl into a touchdown in a heartbeat."
Among the many challenges in slowing Gordon down is his size and speed combination, Talib said.
"You're getting a guy who's 235 pounds and runs like he's 35 pounds. That's definitely a challenge."
While it remains unclear how the Patriots will oppose Gordon this Sunday, it would come as no surprise to see them use Talib to shadow him.
Talib has often been assigned an opponent's top wide receiver, and with his current pace of nearly 125 receiving yards per game, Gordon fits the bill for the Browns.
Spikes finished Sunday's game against the Texans, but the knee did appear to be impacting him during the course of the 34-31 win.
Rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who left the team's Week 12 win against the Broncos and missed all of last week's practice (foot), was also absent, as was starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, who similarly left the Week 12 game with an ankle issue and did not practice last week.
Tight end Michael Hoomanwanui, who left the team's Week 11 game against the Panthers and had not practiced since that time, returned to the practice field on Wednesday. The team recently signed D.J. Williams to provide depth at the position.
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) was on the practice field after missing Week 14. The media-access period extended through just stretching and individual drills, so it was difficult to assess how he is progressing in his recovery.
Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was banged up on Sunday with a hip injury, took just limited reps during a ball-security drill and appears to still be recovering.
Also during that drill, running backs Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen used noticeably worn-down (and possibly wet) footballs. Ridley was inactive in Week 13 after fumbling in three straight games.
The practice was conducted in shells and helmets.
Let's fast-forward to the 14-minute mark of the 20-minute news conference when Belichick was asked a few questions about tight end Rob Gronkowski and if he's now reached the point of other players who had a full training camp. Belichick was describing how it's not really possible to replace a missed training camp (because of limitations on padded practices during the season) and how Gronkowski's training camp/preseason came during the first six weeks of the regular season when he returned to practice but wasn't playing in games.
That's when Belichick turned his head to look at one media member in the room who had consistently questioned him about Gronkowski early in the season, reminding him that was the stretch of time in which he did so.
On a scale of 1-10, we'll give Belichick an "8.5" for that zinger. Solid delivery, drawing a smile from the reporter and laughter from others in the room.
About five minutes later, Belichick was asked if he has any personal affinity for the Browns organization based on his time as their head coach (1991-95).
"I was there for five years. Those were five important years in my life -- for myself and my family and all that. But obviously, we've all moved on and I have a job to do here, and that's where my loyalty is -- to Robert [Kraft] and the Patriots organization and this football team. It's no different than how I feel, honestly, about the Colts or the Lions, or the Broncos," he said of some of his other coaching stops, before sharpening his tongue.
"I feel differently about the Jets. We won't put them in that category."
The Patriots can clinch a playoff berth and/or the division title on Sunday, outlined in the scenarios below.
To clinch the AFC East: Win vs. Browns AND Dolphins loss vs. Steelers
To clinch playoff berth: Win vs. Browns AND Ravens loss vs. Vikings
The Patriots are one of four AFC teams that can clinch a playoff berth this weekend; the Broncos, Chiefs and Colts can as well. Below is a look at the current playoff picture:
1. Denver (10-2)
2. New England (9-3)
3. Indianapolis (8-4)
4. Cincinnati (8-4)
5. Kansas City (9-3)
6. Baltimore (6-6)
Outside looking in
7. Miami (6-6)
8. Tennessee (5-7)
9. Pittsburgh (5-7)
10. San Diego (5-7)
11. New York Jets (5-7)
The top two finishers in the conference receive a first-round bye. The Patriots have a tiebreaker over the Broncos (head-to-head) in the event the teams finish with the same record.
Jake Ballard (Cardinals)
Tight end plays four offensive snaps and six on special teams in a 24-21 road loss to the Eagles. Doesn't register on the stat sheet.
Season snapshot: Has been with the Cardinals for four games since signing Nov. 4, playing 53 of 281 snaps and totaling two catches for 44 yards.
Safety starts and plays all 71 snaps in a 24-21 home win over the Cardinals. Has one pass defended.
Season snapshot: Has started six of 12 games and is credited with 36 tackles.
Jermaine Cunningham (Jets)
Outside linebacker plays six defensive snaps and 11 on special teams in a 23-3 home loss to the Dolphins. Doesn't register on the stat sheet.
Season snapshot: Spent the month of October with the 49ers but never appeared in a game. Signed with the Jets on Nov. 20. He dressed Nov. 24 but didn't play, so the Dolphins game was his debut.
Brandon Deaderick (Jaguars)
Defensive tackle plays 23 of 75 snaps in 32-28 road win over the Browns. Totals one tackle.
Season snapshot: Has played 288 total snaps, totaling eight tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one pass defended.
A.J. Francis (Dolphins)
Defensive tackle is inactive in a 23-3 road win over the Jets.
Season snapshot: Signed off the Patriots' practice squad Nov. 26,
Kyle Love (Chiefs)
Defensive tackle is inactive in a 35-28 home loss to the Broncos.
Season snapshot: After spending training camp with the Jaguars and being released before the season opener, he signed with the Chiefs on Nov. 19. Appeared in one game, playing two snaps, before being waived Dec. 3.
Greg Salas (Jets)
Receiver is targeted four times and makes one catch in a 23-3 home loss to the Dolphins. Plays 30 of 55 snaps.
Season snapshot: In four games with the Jets since making his debut Nov. 3, he has seven catches for 137 yards. Has played 118 of 231 offensive snaps in those games.
Zach Sudfeld (Jets)
Plays seven snaps on offense and 15 on special teams but doesn't register on the stat sheet.
Season snapshot: Tight end has played 103 offensive snaps in seven games. Has four catches for 56 yards.
Jeff Tarpinian (Texans)
Linebacker plays in a reserve role in a 34-31 home loss to the Patriots, totaling two tackles and a half-sack. Plays 27 of 70 snaps.
Season snapshot: After signing with the Texans on Oct. 28, has played in four games, totaling 12 tackles on defense. Has played 92 of 271 defensive snaps.
Wearing No. 26, he is the primary kickoff returner and punt returner in a 22-14 road loss to the Colts, totaling three kickoff returns for 78 yards (26.0 avg.) and two punt returns for 43 yards (21.5 avg.), with two fair catches. Doesn't play on offense.
Season snapshot: Released by the Patriots on Nov. 23; signed with the Titans on Nov. 26.
Wes Welker (Broncos)
Receiver finishes with three catches for 38 yards as his presence draws attention and opens things up for fellow receiver Eric Decker to have a big day in a 35-28 road win over the Chiefs. Plays 63 of 70 snaps.
Season snapshot: Has played 722 of 906 offensive snaps (79.6 percent), and has 68 catches for 717 yards and nine touchdowns.
Danny Woodhead (Chargers)
Running back has seven carries for 22 yards and adds two catches for 13 yards in a 17-10 home loss to the Bengals. Plays 27 of 65 snaps.
Season snapshot: Has 61 receptions for 482 yards and five TDs, and has carried the ball 77 times for 288 yards and two TDs. Has played 384 offensive snaps.
Others: Colts starting guard Donald Thomas landed on season-ending injured reserve in Week 2. ... Defensive end Trevor Scott played four games (54 snaps) with the Buccaneers before he was released Oct. 24. ... Punter Zoltan Mesko was released by the Steelers on Oct. 29 after appearing in seven games and ranking 31st in punting average (42.5) and 29th in net punting average (36.7). ... Quarterback Brian Hoyer started two games for the Browns, leading them to two wins, before tearing his ACL in his third start and landing on season-ending injured reserve.
FALL RIVER, Mass. -- Prosecutors say the fiancee of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez lied to a grand jury nearly 30 times, including saying she could not recall where she left a large box Hernandez allegedly told her to dispose of.
The Herald News reports that prosecutors made the accusation in a document filed in Fall River Superior Court on Monday explaining a perjury charge against Shayanna Jenkins.
Jenkins has pleaded not guilty and her attorney has accused prosecutors of overreaching. A message was left with her Tuesday.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins' sister. He is being held without bail.
Prosecutors also say they believe Jenkins lied when she said she couldn't remember conversations about Lloyd's murder that she had with Hernandez.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Hoyer during his Tuesday conference call.
"We obviously wish him the best. I expressed my personal feelings to him and his family," Belichick said. "He got an opportunity and he went in there and made the most of it then unfortunately suffered an injury there. Whether it’s Matt [Cassel] or Brian or those guys, as long as it doesn’t hurt us, I’m always rooting for them, and many of our other players around the league that have done well that were good Patriot players during their time here.
"We understand that’s part of the business. You develop personal relationships with them. As long as it doesn’t hurt you, I hope they do well. In Brian’s case, certainly, I know his recovery is coming along well and hopefully it will continue that way and he’ll have another opportunity. He’s a great kid, he works hard. He’s certainly paid his dues along the way. "
Hoyer's injury relates to one of the big questions facing the Browns this week: Who plays quarterback?
With Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden having sustained concussions, the club signed Caleb Hanie on Tuesday morning. Last week, the Browns signed Alex Tanney off the Cowboys practice squad.
As for the Patriots' approach, Belichick said: "We’ll just be ready for all the guys at the quarterback position. It’s not really a whole lot different than we do any week. We always prepare for all the guys that are active because we all know that could change in a hurry, regardless of how it starts."
Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 4 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Patriots stand pat this week after a closer-than-many-anticipated 34-31 win over the Texans. They trail the Seahawks, Broncos and Panthers in the rankings. A look at the voting shows that they received two third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and two fifth-place votes.
The Patriots' remaining opponents are the Browns (27), Dolphins (17), Ravens (14) and Bills (24).
Now that we've reached the final quarter of the season, playoff positioning becomes a bigger part of the media-based discussion, and at 9-3, the Patriots would be the No. 2 seed if the playoffs started today. So if they win their final four games, they'd clinch a bye, which would naturally be preferred, though not a necessity (as the Ravens showed last season).
If the Patriots are dealt a fourth loss, it could potentially bring tiebreakers into play, and one thing to keep in mind is that the 8-4 Bengals would hold the edge over the Patriots because of their head-to-head win on Oct. 6.
As for hopes of winning out and getting the top seed, the Patriots would need the 10-2 Broncos to lose against one of these four teams: Titans (at home), Chargers (at home), Texans (on the road) and the Raiders (on the road).
That seems unlikely from this perspective, potentially setting up a scenario similar to that of last season, with Denver as the No. 1 seed and New England as the No. 2, with the suddenly-back-in-the-picture Ravens looming.
It started when Belichick was asked about a fourth-quarter play in the team's 34-31 win over the Texans, as it appeared that Texans defensive back Josh Victorian committed a fair-catch interference penalty against Julian Edelman.
Had things not turned out as well for the Patriots, that apparent fair-catch interference could have been a bigger topic of postgame discussion. On Tuesday's conference call, Belichick was asked if he sends a play like that to the NFL office for clarification.
He responded by explaining the general process in which coaches communicate with NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, but said he couldn't get into specifics about the specific play. Speaking more from a general perspective, however, Belichick said:
"Plays like that beg the whole question on what is reviewable and what isn't reviewable. We only have two challenges and if you potentially get a play like that, which can be a significant play ... Had we touched the ball and [the Texans] recovered, it would have been reviewed and the review would have been part of the touching but not part of the interference. There is a lot of gray area there as well as some sticky things on what is reviewable and what isn't, what can be changed and what couldn't. That's probably a question for another day, but it certainly brings up a lot of other questions."
"When you have two challenges, I don't see anything wrong with the concept of 'you can challenge any two plays that you want.' I understand that judgment calls are judgment calls, but to say that an important play can't be reviewed, I don't think that's really in the spirit of trying to get everything right and making sure the most important plays are officiated properly," he answered.
"If you get a situation where they call a guy for being offside, and you don't think he was offside and you're willing to use one of your challenges on that to let them go back and take a look at it -- I understand if the evidence isn't conclusive that the call stands. If it is [conclusive] then they'd overturn it.
"If it's offensive holding, if you think one of the offensive linemen tackles your guy as he's rushing the quarterback, and the ball hasn't been thrown, they go back and look at it and if it's that egregious of a violation they would make a call. If it wasn't, they wouldn't. We have to live with that anyway but now it's only on certain plays and certain situations.
"It's kind of confusing for me as to which plays are, and which plays aren't challengeable. I'm sure it's confusing to the fans to know what they all are. There are multiple pages explaining what you can and can't challenge. Then you have the officials come over to you in a controversial type of play and say, 'Well, you can challenge this, or you can't challenge it' which is helpful. But I'm just saying the whole idea of simplifying the game and trying to get the important plays right, I wouldn't have any problem if any play was open to a challenge, understanding that if it's not conclusive, then it's not conclusive and the ruling on the field would stand. That's the way it is anyway. I think it would make it a lot simpler in my mind."
One of the men, Joel Williams, who worked part-time at the stadium, told KHOU-TV that he had his picture taken with Brady just as he was ready to clock out from his shift.
After taking the picture with Brady, Williams said he was run down by a supervisor, who told him he was fired.
Another security guard, Christopher Moore, also had his picture taken with Brady and was fired as well.
Williams said he understood the policy that security guards were not permitted to take pictures with people while on duty but said he was ready to clock out when he ran into Brady.
"I said, 'Hey, Tom Brady, good job, good game, man.' He looked at me and smiled," Williams told KHOU-TV. "He was very polite, very nice guy, humble. Sometimes I see players and say hello and they just keep walking."
The company the men worked for, Contemporary Services Corporation, said in a statement to KHOU-TV that it stood by its decision to fire the two.
"It is strictly against CSC policy for its employees to request photos or autographs from players," the statement said. "CSC stands by its decision to terminate the two employees who violated this policy."
Moore, however, claims that the policy hasn't been strictly enforced.
1. Highlighting the work of the coaching staff and its effective in-game adjustments.
2. With running back Stevan Ridley, is it overstating things to say he's at a crossroads in his role as the team's lead rusher?
3. Following up on comments made by Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith.
4. Digging into some defensive questions -- 3-4 vs. 4-3 and zone coverage vs. man.
5. Brian Daboll's role on the coaching staff.
Points per game
This week: 6th (26.8)
Last week: 6th (26.1)
Last season: 1st (34.8)
Browns in 2013: 28th (19.25)
Points allowed per game
This week: 10th (21.75)
Last week: 9th (20.9)
Last season: Tied-9th (20.6)
Browns in 2013: Tied-19th (24.75)
This week: 18th (60 of 163, 36.8 percent)
Last week: 18th (55 of 151, 36.4 percent)
Last season: 1st (110 of 226, 48.7 percent)
Browns in 2013: Tied-30th (62 of 186, 33.3 percent)
This week: 30th (78 of 179, 43.6 percent)
Last week: 30th (73 of 168, 43.5 percent)
Last season: 22nd (82 of 205, 40.0 percent)
Browns in 2013: 28th (77 of 185, 41.6 percent)
This week: Tied-6th (plus-8; 24 takeaways, 16 giveaways)
Last week: Tied-6th (plus-8; 23 takeaways, 15 giveaways)
Last season: 1st (plus-25, 41 takeaways, 16 giveaways)
Browns in 2013: Tied-27th (minus-9; 14 takeaways, 23 giveaways)
Red zone offense (based on TD percentage)
This week: 11th (28 of 50)
Last week: 16th (25 of 47)
Last season: 1st (49 of 70)
Browns in 2013: 8th (16 of 27)
Red zone defense (based on TD percentage)
This week: 21st (22 of 38)
Last week: Tied-14th (19 of 35)
Last season: 13th (24 of 46)
Browns in 2013: 29th (22 of 35)