SportsPulse: We know it’s still preseason but why not predict who’ll be playing in January? Roughly half the playoff field will be different from last year so our very own Trysta Krick predicts the six teams that will be in and the six that will be out.
Even though Josh Gordon is back in the building, the Cleveland Browns are not closing the door on Dez Bryant.
They probably should, for Bryant’s sake and their own.
Gordon, the talented but troubled wideout who didn’t report to training camp on time as he continues to take steps to keep his addiction issues at bay, was moved to the active/non-football injury list Saturday — meaning he’ll again be among his teammates and in club meetings while he focuses on conditioning but won’t be a practice participant quite yet.
Meanwhile, Bryant’s visit to Browns headquarters in Berea, Ohio, on Friday ended without a deal, though coach Hue Jackson said Saturday that the team’s interest in Bryant is mutually exclusive from Gordon’s situation.
“I think one has nothing to do with the other in my opinion. Things will unfold as they will,” said Jackson, who sounded optimistic that Gordon is on the proper track and might even be ready for the regular season.
“We have had a good conversation with Dez. Until he is a Cleveland Brown, I only can worry about the guys who are on this football team.”
We’ve seen Hard Knocks, Hue, and you definitely have enough to worry about already as you try to ignite a franchise that’s gone 1-31 on your watch.
Bryant, jettisoned by the Cowboys in April, is still perfectly capable of helping a team. But how would his Texas-sized personality blend with emergent locker room leader Jarvis Landry in Cleveland? And with Landry (who’s averaged 100 receptions during his first four seasons) typically operating underneath coverages, second-year tight end David Njoku developing into a weapon in the seams and red zone, running back Duke Johnson a threat to catch 75 balls out of the backfield and Gordon — eventually — able to exploit and dominate defenders at every level, how many balls would really be headed toward Bryant?
And though Bryant has stridently defended himself against critics who have suggested he hindered the growth of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, are the Browns going to take a chance that he and rookie Baker Mayfield may not mesh if the No. 1 pick gets onto the field in 2018?
Then look at matters from Bryant’s perspective. Though he’s four years removed from his last 1,000-yard season, he believes he can still be a force in the league. But at 29 years of age, he needs to prove his worth this season if he wants to land one more lucrative, multi-year contract next spring.
Why not go to a place like Jacksonville, where he could make a strong case to be the Jags’ top target and could assimilate nicely onto a team that embraces outspoken stars? Or maybe Houston, where Bryant could theoretically attack less-talented defensive backs and build up some nice numbers as opponents try to eliminate all-pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins? Both the Jaguars and Texans also play the Cowboys this season, Dez, so you would also get the chance to serve up some ice-cold revenge to Jerry Jones, Sean Lee and anybody else in Dallas you might have a beef with.
Among his many traits, Bryant has a reputation as a dog — that’s a compliment in NFL circles. But he’s better off barking somewhere other than the Dawg Pound.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis