BEREA — Browns tight end Jordan Cameron delivered a double-dose of good news Monday at training camp.
The Pro Bowl selection returned to practice on a limited basis — declaring his sprained shoulder to be “fine” — and revealed that he remains in contract negotiations with the franchise.
Cameron will make $1.43 million in the final season of his four-year, $2.52 million pact. If he doesn’t sign a new contract before March, the 6-foot-5, 249-pounder will become an unrestricted free agent.
“The whole process has been positive, and it’s ongoing,” he said. “It’s going well and I feel good about it.”
Cameron declined to address specifics about his contract talks, but said, “I’m always hopeful,” when asked if he thought he would sign before the start of the regular season.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who plays a similar hybrid role, recently signed a four-year, $40 million contract that set the market value for the position.
“I’m letting my agent (Tom Condon) handle all of that,” Cameron said. “My whole focus is on football. We’ve got Washington to look forward to, so nothing else is that important.”
The former Southern California basketball player said he plans on starting against the Redskins on Aug. 18, which will mark Cleveland’s first appearance on ESPN in six years.
Cameron sat out the Browns’ preseason opener — a 13-12 loss Saturday in Detroit — as a precaution after spraining his AC joint, but watched from the sideline at Ford Field.
“It stinks because you’ve been going against your own team for the last six months, and I was unable to get out there,” he said. “But it was fun to watch the team. We had some success and we have a lot to work on, but it was a positive day, definitely.”
Cleveland’s offense remains a work in progress, failing to score a touchdown against the Lions after not reaching the end zone during its intrasquad scrimmage seven days earlier.
The unit figures to receive a huge boost when Cameron suits up in Washington. He made 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns during his breakthrough 2013 season.
“There is nothing to worry about with our offense because we’ve been moving the ball well,” Cameron said. “It’s the little things that really make the biggest difference. We’ll work on that and we’ll game plan more as the season progresses. We have a lot of kinks to work out, but there are no red flags here.”
Not practicing for the Browns were linebacker Eric Martin (concussion), tackles Michael Bowie (shoulder) and Randall Harris (knee) and linebacker Keith Pough (ankle).
Bowie is expected to require season-ending reconstructive surgery, but Pettine said a final decision has not been made on his status.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon (abdominal), tackle Joe Thomas (rest), cornerback Justin Gilbert (groin), linebacker Darius Eubanks (shoulder), tight end MarQueis Gray (abdominal), defensive end Billy Winn (abdomen), center Nick McDonald (wrist) and wide receiver Nate Burleson (hamstring) were limited to riding exercise bikes.
Pettine said Gordon wanted to practice, but the coaching staff opted to hold him out after he was hurt against the Lions. Gray was examined for a concussion during the Detroit game, but tests proved negative.
Safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), wide receiver Travis Benjamin (knee), center Alex Parsons (knee) and tackle Reid Fragel (lower leg) joined Cameron in returning to the practice field.
Tight end Kyle Auffray, a 27-year-old rookie free agent from New Hampshire, was released.
Rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey was singled out by Pettine as making a positive impact against the Lions. The third-round pick from Iowa is competing with Craig Robertson for the starting job at weak-side linebacker.
“We’ll increase Chris’ role a little bit more, get him out there a little bit more with the ones,” the coach said. “That’s not an indictment of Craig because he’s been playing well, too.
“We have enough variance in the packages — whether we’re dime, nickel, base, short-yardage stuff, our extra DB packages — that I think there’s enough work out there for both of them.”
Kirksey was pleased to hear Pettine’s proclamation, especially since he admitted being very nervous while covering the opening kickoff in Detroit.
“(Fellow linebacker) Zac Diles was in my ear, telling me, ‘It’s just football,’ but it took me a couple of plays to settle in,” the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder said. “Hopefully, I’ll get some more reps out of the way I played.”
The new Gipper
Starting free safety Gipson did not participate in team drills as a precaution, allowing Jim Leonhard and Jordan Poyer to split snaps at the position.
The third-year pro plans on being a full-go later this week, but believes his injury could wind up being a positive for the Browns.
“This is the deepest secondary we’ve had since I’ve been here, so it’s good to see a lot of guys getting work during practice,” said Gipson, who made a team-high five interceptions last season.
“You always want to be out there with your guys, but I’ll be fine. My knee is fine. If we have to play a game today or tomorrow, I’m ready for it.”
Poyer is listed as Gipson’s backup on the official depth chart, while Leonhard is behind Donte Whitner at strong safety.
NFL legend and Browns special advisor Jim Brown attended practice. Rookie running back Terrance West stopped to take a photo with him, which he posted on his social media accounts with the tag GOAT (greatest of all time).
The attendance of 2,878 raised the training camp total through 10 days in Berea to 34,314. There are three practices remaining in the public portion of camp (today, Wednesday, Friday).
Cleveland quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and tight ends coach Brian Angelichio will conduct their initial press conferences today.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com