Josh Gordon was riding the bike, which is not ideal. Gordon missed Wednesday’s practice and will miss Thursday’s with what coach Mike Pettine called a “minor ding.” That’s all he would say about it, but Gordon’s absence was noticed. The receiving crew without Gordon is a rather ... well ... interesting ... that’s the word ... interesting group. If the Gordon suspension comes down -- the British got to the Falklands faster than this decision has been made -- it could be that the last two times Gordon was with the team for at least a year, he watched and did not practice.
It didn’t help that joining Gordon on the sideline were Nate Burleson and Miles Austin. Burleson is recovering from having the pin placed in his arm when he broke it last year refitted, and Austin is out for unknown reasons. Pettine even admitted that the uncertainty about Gordon’s status combined with the missing veterans “does put us a little bit behind with the uncertainty of what the lineup is going to look like.” He said the team is hoping to find a “diamond in the rough” among the gaggle of young receivers in camp, which would be a good thing but isn’t always encouraging.
There was a nasty fight late in practice with guard Garrett Gilkey and defensive tackle Phil Taylor the main participants. This was one serious fight, with Gilkey throwing at least three uppercuts and Taylor twice jumping over a group of players to take some serious and wild swings at Gilkey. At one point Taylor shoved Austin out of the way so he could restart the fracas. It took a few moments for coaches and players to break things up. “I talked to them about it afterward, that we’re all wearing the same logo,” Pettine said. “I always use the phrase competitive, not combative. That line gets crossed every now and again, but I also think that’s a byproduct of what we’re trying to build, the mentality. It happens. As a coach you frown on it, but as a coach you understand that might be the price of doing business.” Pettine admitted this one went too far. “Especially because Gilkey’s hair ... there might have been a hair pull or two at the end,” Pettine said. Gilkey summed things up this way after practice:
One player who has stood out to everyone is receiver Andrew Hawkins, who is getting a lot of work thanks to the absence of others. Hawkins is exceptionally quick and seems to have the drive to succeed. Brian Hoyer didn't talk Wednesday because he was not made available to the media, but he has said Hawkins attacks routes the same way Wes Welker does. Pettine said one defensive call had Hawkins double covered, but he got open and made the catch, which prompted offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to taunt defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil and say: “You have to put three on him.” Said Pettine: “[Hawkins] is a guy who can win in the slot.” The next step will be continuing to win while wearing pads.
Pettine’s father visited his son and spent part of the morning watching film of the team’s practice. Mike Pettine Sr. is a legendary high school coach in Pennsylvania, having had great success at Central Bucks High School. Evidently the elder Pettine can be blunt when breaking down tape. “We had a ... I wouldn’t call it heated ... we had an Italian conversation this morning before practice,” Pettine the younger said. “A lot of times I tell him it’s sometimes how you say, how you package it,” the Browns coach said. “Usually the content’s accurate. But sometimes my defenses go up when he delivers the message the way he delivers it.” Which would indicate that Pettine the son’s nickname -- Blunt Force Trauma -- did not fall far from the tree. “I learned from the best,” he said.