BEREA,Ohio--It's been a long time coming.
Josh Gordon took the field for the first time practicing Monday after being taken off the non-football injury list. Gordon last appeared in a game for the Browns on Dec. 21, 2014 in a 17-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The week later, the Browns suspended Gordon for the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.
Gordon then missed the entire 2015 season serving an indefinite suspension by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. There was an opportunity for Gordon to be reinstated earlier in the spring, but another abnormality in Gordon's results pushed his reinstatement opportunity to the beginning of training camp.
The NFL reinstated Gordon just prior to training camp, but when he reported to the Browns, he failed the team's physical with a quad injury suffered in training on his own and was placed on the non-football injury (NFI) list. Gordon was reinstated with the provision that he must serve a four game suspension to open the regular season. He's allowed to practice and play in the preseason, but not in the first four games.
Since he has not been on the field in nearly two years, it is very important for Gordon to get some action in the preseason. Hue Jackson was noncommittal as far as if Gordon would play Thursday against the Falcons after just a couple of practices.
The big question is which Gordon will show up?
The player who lit the league on fire in 2013 when he caught 87 passes for a franchise-record 1,846 yards, including nine touchdowns to lead the NFL in receiving yardage, despite playing in just 14 games or the player who returned after a 10 game suspension to start the 2014 season and caught just 24 passes for 303 yards in five games, with no touchdowns.
In 2014, Gordon appeared to be disinterested and not fully engaged.
Gordon was asked if he felt he could regain the form that he displayed in 2013 that led him to the Pro Bowl.
"I'm the same guy,'' he said. "I'm definitely the same guy. I'm confident in my abilities. I know what I can do. Just given the opportunity and the right timing, right position and the relying on the rest of the team as much as they rely on me, it's a great boost of motivation and anything is possible for anybody.
"But I definitely am aware of what I can do and I think I can build upon that and do even better.''
Gordon has appeared to be engaged and excited to have another chance in the NFL.
“Yeah, it’s something that I really haven’t felt in a long time," Gordon said. "Once you get that type of feeling, type of vibe and environment being around happy people, it kind of just rubs off you. I’ve missed it. Being back in it, I love it and I try to take full advantage of it. I’m glad to be back and that’s probably what you saw there.”
Gordon said he appreciates the opportunity that he has and intends to make the most of it.
“I think definitely, definitely, especially here in the preseason," he said. "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, I think guys should take it seriously and I definitely take it seriously. I like to have fun while I’m here.”
Robert Griffin III is excited to have Gordon back out on the field. The duo played one season together at Baylor and still hold the franchise record for longest pass play as they hooked up for a 94-yard touchdown play in college.