With yesterday’s news of Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon being suspended for the year, a struggling offense took a huge blow. Cleveland was already looking more than a little out of sorts offensively through the preseason, and now it would appear they’ve lost their only weapon.
It certainly makes things look bleak for the Browns as the regular season nears. However, if there’s any saving grace in the team’s passing game, it’s tight end Jordan Cameron.
Cleveland’s depth at receiver is equal parts thin and non-threatening. Miles Austin’s best years may be behind him, Andrew Hawkins is best used in the slot and there’s still a possibility Nate Burleson doesn’t make the final roster. Newly crowned QB Brian Hoyer is going to need someone he can consistently get the ball to, and Cameron fits the bill.
The former USC Trojan had himself a breakout season last year, jumping from 20 receptions and one touchdown in 2012 to 80 catches and seven touchdowns in 2013. Once seen as a project, essentially since he converted from basketball to football midway through college, Cameron is threatening to be one of the NFL’s best tight ends. If the Browns are going to do anything offensively this year, they’re going to need Cameron to maintain his success from last season.
One thing going in his favor is the chemistry he showed with Hoyer during the quarterback’s limited time on the field last year. Of the seven touchdowns he caught in 2013, four were in games Hoyer started. Granted one of them took place during a fake field goal, Cameron certainly looked like one of Hoyer’s favorite targets. If the two players can continue playing well together come this season, there may be a sliver of hope in the Browns’ passing game.
The issue Cameron will have to deal with, though, is the increased attention he’s sure to receive from opposing defenses. The aforementioned lack of imposing receivers, coupled with the loss of Gordon, means defenders are sure to key in on Cameron in order to prevent him from making an impact. Not only will he likely see plenty of double-teaming, but with the increased pressure opponents will bring when Hoyer drops back to pass, Cameron will also have to try and get open as soon as possible.
If there’s anything driving Cameron to be a standout for Cleveland this year besides trying to help the team win, it’s his current contract situation.
He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, and is currently in negotiations with the Browns on a new deal. According to the tight end, the talks are going well. If, come midseason, Cameron is proving last year was no fluke as he becomes the team’s standout pass-catcher, it would definitely help him earn a little more money next year.
Players across all sports tend to try and play their best when in the middle of a contract year, and if the same applies to Cameron, it’ll be huge for both him and his team.
Many are souring on the Browns chances this season with their best player now out for the year. It certainly will make the passing game a weekly uphill battle. However, if Cameron can step up for the Browns in a big way, there may be a chance for the team to overcome the loss of Gordon.