CLEVELAND - As the full impact of the 2013 season comes under scrutiny, it might be fair to ask how did the Browns manage to win four games?
Injuries to key offensive personnel have sabotaged any hopes of consistency on that side of the ball. The latest is to tight end Jordan Cameron, whose Pro Bowl-caliber season might have ended last Sunday when he suffered a concussion against the Chicago Bears.
Coach Rob Chudzinski revealed Wednesday that Cameron is following NFL protocol for concussions. Cameron missed practice and probably won't play Sunday on the road against the New York Jets.
The Associated Press
Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron, shown making a tackle on Sunday against the Bears, is out with a concussion.
It's one thing to lose a backup lineman to an ankle sprain. It's much worse when injuries hit the skilled positions at an alarming rate.
The saga of the quarterback position has been well chronicled. Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell have been in and out of the lineup because of injuries on a regular basis
Running back Trent Richardson hasn't been around since being traded to the Indianapolis Colts after the second game. Receiver Josh Gordon was suspended the first two games.
Now you can add Cameron's injury to the list. Chudzinski wasn't certain when the injury occurred. Cameron finished the game, but he dressed quickly and left the locker room without talking to reporters afterwards.
Given the impact Cameron has had in his breakout season, his absence will be felt. Cameron is second to Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints in receptions among all NFL tight ends with 75. He's also second to Graham in receiving yards for tight ends at 848.
"I'm really pleased with the way he's jumped out and improved in such a short amount of time," Chudzinski said. "He's proven to be a consistent playmaker and has really done a nice job of catching the ball, learning the game and understanding the nuances of that position. He's grown as a blocker as well."
Cameron experienced slow growth in his first two seasons, catching six passes in his rookie year of 2011 and 20 last season. The growing pains of switching from basketball to football at USC were evident.
That all changed starting with the first game of this season, when he caught nine passes for 108 yards and one touchdown against the Miami Dolphins. He's caught five passes or more in seven games, including a 10-catch effort in the first game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He caught three touchdown passes in a win over the Minnesota Vikings.
"I didn't know much about (Cameron) before I got here, but I've learned a lot," backup tight end Gary Barnidge said. "Everybody labeled him as a basketball player. As the year (has progressed), he's not a basketball player; he's a football player. He's athletic. He can learn and do things. He's getting better every week, and we can see that."
Barnidge will be first up if Cameron doesn't play. Barnidge was signed last March to add a blocking presence he has just 11 receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Like Cameron, Barnidge his trying to shake an image. For Cameron, it was proving he's not a basketball player in a football uniform. Barnidge is trying to prove he can be more than a blocker.
"The knock on me coming out of college is he has to work on his blocking," Barnidge said. "I've really worked on it. Now people see me more as a blocker than a receiver, when I can do both."
It looks as if he'll get that chance Sunday.