BEREA, Ohio — Until he was injured on a 42-yard catch from Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns’ second-year tight end Jordan Cameron was the talk of the offseason and training camp.
Cameron was a reserved tight end at USC and raised eyebrows when he was drafted in the fourth round by the Browns in 2011. Now, Cameron has started to show what Browns general manager Tom Heckert saw in him.
Cameron is a converted basketball player. Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur are hoping the 6-foot-5 leaper can follow in the steps of Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates.
“Basketball really translates well to football,” Cameron said.
Cameron played basketball at Brigham Young. After a stop at Ventura College, he went to USC and began playing football. He only played in 23 games with the Trojans and caught 16 passes.
Cameron feels much more comfortable in his second year in the pros. He caught six passes as a rookie in limited action.
“I think I’ve been involved with the ones two’s and three’s,” Cameron said. “I’m getting a lot of reps and that’s good. I just need to keep taking advantage of the reps.”
One of the biggest things that Cameron has to translate to the NFL is the ability to block. Having played basketball, he has the soft hands and the ability to jump, but it takes more at the NFL level.
“You have to be able to do more than one thing for us to throw you the football,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s one of the things he’s focused on quite a bit and he’s getting better.
“An important thing for the tight end is to use your feet properly and right hand placement and all that. I think he’s a good enough athlete to do that and then at that point when the defender tries to separate then you’ve got to use your athletic ability to keep you on the block and he has all of those thing and he’s getting better.”
Shurmur said he knew it would take a little time to develop Cameron.
“I don’t want to sound cliché but you have to practice it,” Shurmur said. “He was a guy that didn’t play a lot of football in college, but showed us the skill and ability to be a good receiver.”
Cameron feels that he will be able to contribute this year.
“I have confidence in myself,” he said. “I knew I could make plays out here. I still don’t know everything, obviously.
“I have a lot to learn, but coming in this year I was definitely more confident knowing the basic steps and the basic techniques.”
Cameron said he has spent a lot of time working on the details of blocking.
“Just my overall technique,” he said. “The little things, like getting your feet and your hands right. Where to go in the run game and the little things in route running, too. With reading the coverage, looking at the defense and seeing the secondary. Getting the bigger picture of not knowing just what I do, but what everyone else does so I know where to fit in with the concept.”
He said he is getting all the coaching he needs.
“A lot of critical (feedback),” Cameron said. “They’re talking about the details a lot like ‘Jordan, you’ve got to do this right.’ It may look good to someone else, but sometimes my feet are wrong and I make the block but my feet aren’t right. So they’re looking at the little things and I have to get a lot better at those things.”
Backup QB: Shurmur said this week that there was no timetable in naming the backup quarterback to starter Brandon Weeden. He said it probably wouldn’t be announced until the week of the season opener. He did say Monday that fourth QB Thaddeus Lewis was a player ‘worth developing,’ which caused some speculation that either QB Colt McCoy or QB Seneca Wallace would not be with the team when the season opens.
“I can only control what I can control,” Lewis said after practice Tuesday. “I don’t look that far ahead. I’m hopeful I will be (with the Browns).”
McCoy has constantly been the talk of possible trades for teams looking for a backup quarterback. McCoy says he wants to stay with the Browns. McCoy has been the Browns top quarterback thus far in the preseason. He is 10-for-14 passing for 146 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. His QB rating is 105.1. Lewis is 5-for-8 for 90 yards and a 101 rating. Wallace is 10-for-17 for 130 yards with a touchdown and a 102 rating. Meanwhile, Weeden is 15-for-29 for 180 yards with one interception and a 56.7 rating.
McCoy re-iterated that he wants to remain with the Browns.
“I’m a Cleveland Brown and proud to be one,” McCoy said after practice Tuesday. “I’m telling you as honest as I can. I come in here every day and work as hard as I can.
“I am proud of this team, this city and am happy to be here and will continue to work and train. That’s my job to work and be prepared. Beyond that, it’s out of my control.”
Injury Update: RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ankle), DL Phil Taylor (pectoral), DB Ray Ventrone (hamstring), TE Ben Watson (undisclosed), DB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), OL Oniel Cousins (undisclosed), DL Scott Paxson (knee), RB Trent Richardson (knee), LB Chris Gocong (Achilles), DB Usama Young (hamstring) and DL Emmanuel Stephens (leg) were either limited or sat out practice.
Shurmur gave no updates on when any of the players might return.
For Starters: The Browns used the Packers game last Thursday as their ‘dress rehearsal’ because they play the Eagles in the third preseason game and open the season against them Sept. 9. Shurmur said he expects the starters to play about a half.
“We’re going to finalize that in the next couple of days.”
Turk Looming: NFL teams have to cut their rosters from 90 to 75 by next Monday. Shurmur said there are several players still on the ‘bubble.’
Shurmur was asked if there was more talent this year than on last year’s team.
“Talent is potential,” he said. “You need to turn that into wins. The guys are one year better in our system. I’m a hopeful guy. I am seeing the team come together.”
New Sheriff in Town: New owner Jimmy Haslam III took in practice for the most part with Mike Holmgren and Heckert on Tuesday.
More Security: Starting Friday with the preseason home opener, all fans will be subject to metal detections as they enter Browns Stadium. This is a new requirement for all NFL stadiums. Fans will be asked to hold their keys, cell phones and other metal items in their hands during the wanding process.
Last Chance: The Browns will wrap up training camp Wednesday with practice open to the public from 8:45-11:15 a.m. The Browns will be off Thursday before preparing to play their third preseason game at home Friday night against the Eagles.