DETROIT - In a bit of a surprise, receiver Josh Gordon received considerable time with the first-team offense against the Lions Saturday at Ford Field.
The decision to give Gordon reps with the ones could mean that his appeal of a one-year suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy might end favorably for him. It's possible that the two sides are working on an agreement that would result in a shorter suspension of about eight games.
There's no way coach Mike Pettine would have played Gordon to the extent he did if he thought he's about to lose the receiver for the entire season. Now is the time of preseason to give reps to players that will be on the field extensively when the regular season opens.
The appeal was heard recently by an arbitrator during a period of multiple days. A decision could come as soon as this week but perhaps longer.
Gordon caught two passes for 32 yards.
ON THE GROUND: If the Browns are to have any success throwing the ball this season, it will start with their running game.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan learned from his father Mike, who used a powerful running game and the throwing arm of quarterback John Elway to win two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Kyle is introducing a zone-blocking running scheme to the offense with the hope that it will loosen up defenses and set up play-action passes.
Early returns were mildly impressive. The first-team offense showed some pop on the ground. Ben Tate ran 8 yards following a 28-yard completion from Brian Hoyer to fullback Marquis Gray on the opening series. Tate followed with runs of 4 yards and 1 yard before the drive stalled.
Tate was immediately better than any of the backs used last season. On possessions with the first team, he rushed for 25 yards on six carries.
TO THE OUTSIDE: Defensive lineman Phil Taylor, who had been entrenched on the inside of the defensive line at nose tackle, started at end in place of the injured Billy Winn. Coach Mike Pettine likes Ahtyba Rubin at the nose, saying he's one of the best he's ever coached at the position. Taylor will also play inside when Rubin needs a break.
NOT THIS WEEK: The rookie preseason debut of first-round draft pick Justin Gilbert will have to wait another week. Gilbert, who has been impressive in camp, was out with a groin injury. Gilbert missed practice on Thursday.
It's a minor setback for Gilbert in his pursuit of a starting spot opposite cornerback Joe Haden. When healthy, Gilbert is expected to get the starting nod ahead of Buster Skrine, who would then move inside to cover the slot.
Tight end Jordan Cameron continued to rest a sore shoulder. He could have played if it had been a regular-season game.
INACTIVES: There was a large list of idle Browns in addition to Gilbert and Cameron. Others not playing were receivers Travis Benjamin and Nate Burleson; linebackers Darius Eubanks and Eric Martin; offensive linemen Reid Fragel, Randall Harris, Alex Parsons and Nick McDonald, and safety Tashaun Gipson.
Most of the Lions suited up, with the exception of defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah, receiver T.J. Jones and receiver Calvin Johnson.
MOVING IN: Jim Dray started in place of Cameron. Jordan Poyer got a start in place of Gipson.
STEPPING UP: Benjamin's absence gave a chance for others to stand out in the return game. Marlon Moore took full advantage by taking the second-half kick off 52 yards to the Lions' 49.