September 2, 2014

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Browns notes: Thomas unfazed by rumors

MINNEAPOLIS — Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas doesn’t do Twitter. So he didn’t know his name was in the news Sunday morning.

NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported several teams called the Browns last week about a trade for Thomas, only to be told he isn’t available, according to a source.

The Browns held All-Pro Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson to 88 yards on 25 carries. (AP PHOTO)

“I didn’t see that,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s not a huge revelation, but if somebody in the building said that, maybe that’s a worthy news item. On game day we don’t really see any of that stuff. I’m not a Twitter guy anyway, but maybe if you look at Twitter you see that.

“I didn’t notice. But I’m not surprised.”

After the trade of starting running back Trent Richardson on Wednesday, Thomas said “nobody on any team is untouchable,” including himself, a six-time Pro Bowler.

He was asked Sunday after the 31-27 victory over the Vikings if he’d been told he isn’t going to be traded.

“No. There’s so much smoke signals in this league anyway,” he said. “You really can’t take anybody’s word for it anyway. If somebody said, ‘Hey, you’re not going to get traded,’ how much can you really trust them anyway?”

Big day, big start

Tight end Jordan Cameron continued his blistering beginning to the season with six catches for 66 yards and three touchdowns.

Through three games he has 20 catches for 269 yards and four touchdowns. He entered the year with 26 catches, 259 yards and a touchdown.

“Everyone believes they can make plays in this league,” he said. “My confidence is gaining each week with the reps that I’m getting and I’m trying to get better each week.”

Cameron tied a team record with the three receiving touchdowns, the first since receiver Braylon Edwards in 2007.

He called the first touchdown the toughest, a 19-yarder in the left corner of the end zone in which he had to get both feet down inbounds. He caught an 11-yarder on a fake field goal and the 7-yard winner with 51 seconds left.

“He just gets better every day and understands the game and continues to grow as a player,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “I can’t say enough good things about Jordan.”

A little trickery

Chudzinski wasn’t done after Josh Aubrey took a fake punt 34 yards to set up a field goal in the second quarter. On Cleveland’s next possession, he called for a fake field goal that resulted in a touchdown.

Two fakes, 10 points. Not bad.

“That’s always going to be our mentality,” Chudzinski said. “We’re going to play aggressive whether it’s the fakes, whether it’s going for it on fourth down. That’s the way we’re going to play.”

The Browns faced fourth-and-1 at their 38 and Christian Yount snapped to up-back Aubrey, an undrafted rookie. He got through the congestion and ran down the middle of the field.

“The play was made for like a 2-yard gain. So we were going to run it regardless,” Aubrey said. “Then for some reason the end went out and the tackle went in and it left a big old crease right down the C-gap. Soon as I saw that I just took off and was trying to help the team win.”

The Browns were set up for a 29-yard field goal when Cameron was able to line up wide without the Vikings noticed. Yount hurried the snap to holder/punter Spencer Lanning, who got the ball to Cameron, who sneaked inside the pylon.

“If they covered it we were going to bring it back in,” said Lanning, whose only previous pass was in college. “You try to get set so nobody sees it. They gave us the look we wanted and we got a good snap, a good throw and J.C. made a good catch and got into the end zone.”

Bottling up the best

Adrian Peterson had 38 100-yard rushing days entering Sunday.

He still has 38.

The Browns held the All-Pro running back to 88 yards on 25 carries, a 3.5 average. His long run was 9 yards.

“It’s a testament to our D-line,” inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “Before this year started we knew we could be a good defense, a good run-stopping defense.”

Peterson rushed seven times for 28 yards on the first drive of the game, capping it with a 2-yard touchdown.

“We knew coming in they were pretty stout up front,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “We didn’t really create the holes we were hoping to and credit to their defense, they did a good job.”

New runners

Running back Willis McGahee, signed Thursday, carried eight times for 9 yards with a long of 9. He also allowed a sack when linebacker Erin Henderson ran him over.

“I was rusty,” said McGahee, who has 8,097 career rushing yards. “No training camp, nothing. One of the players welcomed me back to the NFL, (No.) 50, when I got bull rushed.

“It’s going to take time. The more I work at it, the more I catch up with those guys, I can help out a lot more.”

With Richardson gone to the Colts, the Browns went with running back by committee. Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya carried twice for 23 yards and caught four passes for 30. Bobby Rainey got his first NFL carries, rushing four times for 17.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Browns covet Houston’s Ben Tate, 25, and will aggressively pursue him in free agency after the season, citing league sources. Tate is stuck behind Pro Bowler Arian Foster, but has 1,405 yards, a 5.3 average per carry and six touchdowns in 29 games, including two starts.

Rulebook

Travis Benjamin muffed a punt late in the second quarter, picked up the loose ball, then had it stripped. Vikings linebacker Larry Dean recovered and ran into the end zone, but referee Bill Leavy ruled the play over at the spot of the recovery.

“The ruling on the field was that there was no possession by the receiving player, therefore it was a muffed kick and could not be advanced by the kicking team,” Leavy told a pool reporter. “If he possessed the kick and then fumbled, the ball could be advanced.”

Frazier threw his challenge flag, which is illegal because the replay booth automatically reviews changes of possession. Leavy assessed a 15-yard penalty, giving the Vikings first-and-25 from the 41-yard line. The rule changed this year, and the penalty should’ve been only a loss of a timeout.

“A timeout should have been charged instead of a fifteen yard penalty,” Leavy said.

The Vikings settled for a 43-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 24-17.

Injury report

Outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard left the locker room on a crutch and with his right leg in a sleeve. He was hurt recovering a fumble in the third quarter, returned for a play and then left for good.

Sheard had three tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a recovery. His strip-sack of Christian Ponder ended the first half after the Vikings had reached the 10-yard line.

Rookie Barkevious Mingo replaced Sheard and got his second sack in two games.

The Browns were already without outside linebacker Quentin Groves, who suffered a high ankle sprain last week. The four-man rotation was down to two for the fourth quarter.

• Defensive end Billy Winn limped off the field in the second quarter with a quadriceps tendon strain.

• Kicker Billy Cundiff didn’t kick in the fourth quarter with a quad strain.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.