While Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon received good news earlier this offseason when his bid for reinstatement following an indefinite suspension was accepted, it has still been a rocky road since then. Part of his reinstatement included serving a four-game suspension at the start of the regular season, and he began work with the Browns in training camp on the Non-Football Injury List.
But Gordon finally came off the NFI list yesterday and practiced for the first time in over a year, which is big news for a Browns team that is desperate to turn things around, especially on the offensive side of the ball, radically overhauling their wide receiver depth chart as one step in the process.
While the team certainly has some contenders to contribute at the position—perhaps most notably their rookie first-round pick, who certainly seems in line to start immediately from day one—the addition of a talent such as Gordon’s, even if he can’t live up to his 2013 All-Pro standard, is a significant influx of talent.
“I think every day that I’m back means a lot to me”, he told reporters before his first practice with the team.” I’m glad to be out there with my brothers, put my helmet back on and get back in the swing of things”.
While he acknowledged that his first day back would probably be a light one with few physical reps and a lot of mental reps, he still expressed an eagerness to be back on the field after rehabbing a quad injury that delayed his return to football.
The Browns play their next game on Thursday, as do the Steelers, but it may not be enough time to get Gordon in the sort of rhythm and condition necessary to participate in the game, even on a limited basis. Still, the team will need to get him up and running during the preseason before he has to sit out the first four games of the season, during which he will be unable to participate in practice.
The former All-Pro said that he “definitely” holds a lot more appreciation for aspects of the game that might have seemed less important or simply a hassle before. Talking about the preseason, he said that “a lot of guys don’t take that seriously, but every opportunity you can get out there and show what you can do, hurt or not, [should be taken seriously]”.
Gordon also talked about how the team is different since he has last been around, which should not be surprising given how much has changed. He has never played with these quarterbacks on the roster, nor most of the wide receivers. The head coach is new, as is the front office.
“This opportunity we have here is nothing that I’ve felt before, seen before, and I really want to be a part of it”, he said. He talked about the difference in the atmosphere and the coaching and said, “I really bought into it and I think the rest of the guys have”.