Gary Barnidge: Finishing games will help young Cleveland Browns mature

CLEVELAND -- Being close may count in a few places, but on the scoreboard at an NFL stadium or between the white lines on Sundays are not among them.

The Cleveland Browns have experienced heartbreaking defeat in each of the last three weeks, falling late in the fourth quarter or overtime, and those who have been through the long losing streaks before are anxious to get into the win column.

“We just have to finish these games,” tight end Gary Barnidge said. “Once we finish one of these games, it is really going to show everybody on the team that we can do this.

“We have already shown that we can stay with any team in the league and we can do it week-in, week-out. Once we finish one of these, everybody is really going to really see it happen, and I think it is really going to buy in then.”

With a team full of nearly two dozen rookies, the Browns’ veterans feel finishing off an opponent will go a long way in shaping the future of the franchise.

“I think that will definitely help,” Barnidge said. “The young guys have followed the vets. They are doing a good job. They are learning everything. They are in the meeting rooms extra, learning everything, and they are showing it on the field.

“They are not making many mistakes, and that is the good thing. We just have to keep finishing these games. If we can get to one of these, finish it, everything will be great.”

A Pro Bowl player after turning 79 catches into 1,043 yards and tying the franchise’s single-season record with nine touchdowns, Barnidge had 16 receptions over the first four weeks of the year. However, his average yards per reception are down by 3.2 from last year.

But when opportunities for big plays do present themselves, Barnidge will seize them in an effort to turn around the fortunes of a Browns team with losses in 22 of their last 25 games.

“We have plays in,” Barnidge said. “We have done them in the game. It is just the outside opportunities have been better. The matchups outside, they have been open, so they have been hitting them. There is always going to be plays in the gameplan for you. It is just whether the matchups are going to fit.”


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