BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Davone Bess is the oldest wide receiver on the Cleveland Browns, but that’s strictly a relative term.
Bess, 27, is squarely in the prime of his career and was the most consistent pass catcher throughout a three-day minicamp that concluded Thursday.
Emerging wideouts Greg Little and Josh Gordon are Cleveland’s future at the position, but Bess might be its most important asset. The sixth-year pro was acquired from the Miami Dolphins in an April 26 trade, then promptly signed a three-year contract extension.
“My job is to help the Cleveland Browns win games by making plays, but I also know they brought me here to work with the younger guys,” Bess said. “Greg and Josh, they’re such physically gifted athletes and they can run, jump and catch.
“You can tell that they’re hungry, so I’m just trying to show them the way I approach the game and answer any questions they have for me.”
Little was a second-round pick two years ago, while Gordon, a 2012 supplemental draft choice, cost the Browns their second-round pick this spring. At 6-foot-2 and 6-3, respectively, their potential is high, but their maturity remains a concern.
The latter issue again came to the forefront Wednesday, when Gordon used his Twitter account to brag that he was “undefeated” drag racing on nearby Interstate 71. The tweet was deleted within hours.
“Davone goes about his business the right way and I think it’s rubbing off on the entire locker room,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “He brings consistency to the field and he doesn’t make many mistakes. He also knows how to prepare, so you want to follow his example as a player.”
The 5-10, 195-pound Bess has lined up in the slot since arriving in Cleveland, which was his main role throughout his five seasons in Miami. He made 321 receptions and scored 12 touchdowns in 77 games with the Dolphins, topped by a 79-catch season in 2010.
During the same timeframe, the only Browns wide receiver with more than 55 grabs in a season was Little, who had 61 as a rookie. In 2012, Little made a team-high 53 receptions and Gordon had 50.
“You grow up fast being thrown into the fire like I did, but it made me a better player, and it will help both of those guys, too,” said Bess, who played in his first NFL game at age 22. “But it is a bit weird being the old man in the group because I remember coming into the league so young. Now, it’s been six years. Time flies.”
Former Bills receiver David Nelson likely will join Bess in the slot once he recovers from reconstructive right knee surgery, along with speedster Travis Benjamin. Nelson is one year younger than Bess, but has played two fewer seasons in the league.
All five receivers figure to see significant snaps in the up-tempo offense being installed by new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“With the weapons that we have, and Norv’s track record for scoring points and gaining yards, the sky is the limit,” said Bess, who has posted 130 third-down receptions over the last five seasons, ranking second in the NFL. “I’ve felt that way from the first time I met Norv and Chud because they’re great guys and you can understand their passion for the game.
“We know they’re going to do their part to put us in a position to do great things. As players, we just have to show up and do ours.
“I really believe that.”