FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2014, file photo, Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) is helped off the field after an injury in the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Cleveland. Cameron is practicing for the first time in four weeks after missing the past three games due to a concussion. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
BEREA, Ohio — Following his first practice in nearly a month because of a concussion, Browns tight end Jordan Cameron turned and tapped his hand lovingly on the photo taped inside his locker.
It's one of his smiling 5-year-old son, Tristan, the joy of Cameron's life.
"I've got this little guy," Cameron said. "I wouldn't come back if I felt like I was in danger of not being there for him."
Cameron returned to practice Friday for the first time since Oct. 24, two days before he sustained his third concussion in less than two years on a vicious hit against Oakland. The 26-year-old has spent the past few weeks waiting for symptoms to subside, but Friday was the first time he was able to get on the field to run pass routes, make catches and feel like an NFL player again.
"When you're not with your teammates for a month it feels good to be back," he said.
Cameron, though, will not play this week when the Browns (4-6) visit the Atlanta Falcons. Cameron has continued to experience "little mini headaches" which have kept him from being fully cleared until Friday. He's followed the NFL's strict protocol on head injuries since he was struck in the back of the head by Raiders safety Brandian Ross, who was fined $22,050 by the league for his hit.
Cameron feels he has finally turned the corner. He has visited two specialists, who have assured him he is not taking a major risk if he keeps playing. Cameron said tests on his brain indicate he has not sustained any major damage and that his baseline test is the same as it was six years ago.
Cameron spoke with former teammate Ben Watson, now with New Orleans. Watson, who spent three seasons with the Browns, has also sustained numerous concussions. The talks with Watson put Cameron at ease as did the information he's received from medical experts. Although it's hurting his career — Cameron is in his final year under contract — he's not going to do anything to jeopardize his life.
"Everyone plays injured," he said. "This is one of those things you can't really play through, and that's the problem with football players. We've been told our whole life 'You're fine, keep playing,' but this is one of those things you can't. I could've played two weeks ago but it would've been terrible for my brain. You can't push it. You've just got to sit down and listen to the doctors and trust your symptoms."
Cameron has just 13 catches for 250 yards this season after getting 80 for 917 last year, when he scored seven touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl.
He doesn't think his rash of concussions will be a detriment to negotiating a new deal.
"You look back at the concussions that I've gotten, it's not like I'm a fragile person," he said. "It's not like I took a little hit and got a concussion. I've taken some hits that were serious and I think anyone in that situation they would have gotten a concussion. It's not like if I get hit a little bit I'm done or anything. They can watch the tape and they'll know anyone would have a concussion in these situations."
Cameron said he never considered retiring.
"Not once," he said. "The last two years, I've had a whole offseason to recover and I felt nothing. I'm not looking at the TV like 'I can't see.' I'm not having conversations and blank staring at people. I'm fully back to normal."
Cameron is thankful that players are more aware of the potential dangers from head injuries. While dealing with pain is part of life in the NFL, it's different when it comes to the brain.
"Back in the day, you know it was, 'I got my bell rung' and you would still play and the effects that has later in your life. We know that now that you can't do that and I think just being proactive with these things and understanding the situation and just being patient and listening. If you feel something, you've got to tell them. You've got to be honest."
NOTES: The Browns have had preliminary discussions with the NFL about the possibility their game in Buffalo could be moved next week. Because of heavy snow, the Bills are playing the New York Jets in Detroit on Monday. "I do know they're facing potential flooding with rain and warmer temperatures this weekend," coach Mike Pettine said. "When Monday comes, I'm sure we'll turn our eyes that direction and kind of see where we are with it." ... Browns starting LB Karlos Dansby (knee) did not practice and is listed as doubtful (25 percent chance of playing) for Sunday. LB Jabaal Sheard (foot) was limited in practice and is questionable. ... Browns backup QB Johnny Manziel thought he was going into the game last week after Brian Hoyer took a hard hit from Houston's Brian Cushing. Manziel's first thoughts? "I need to find my helmet. I need to take this ear piece out." Manziel said the Browns have not practiced the "Johnny Package" of plays as much as they did earlier in season.