The Cleveland Browns plan to activate wide receiver Josh Gordon from the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt list this week, which would make him available to play in next Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports.
That means Gordon will return to the field for the first time since Dec. 21, 2014, after years of suspensions for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
After he was granted conditional reinstatement from the NFL earlier this month, Gordon has done everything the Browns asked of him before returning to practice last week.
Observers have indicated that despite a nearly three-year layoff from NFL action, Gordon looked good during practices, putting him on track to have a role in next week’s game plan.
“I felt pretty good,” Gordon told reporters on Friday. “I think I knocked that rust off prior to getting back into the building so that was what I was looking forward to do.”
Browns head coach Hue Jackson said last week that Gordon returning to the practice field was “like Christmas.”
“I get to open a new toy,” Jackson said Monday after Gordon had worked with quarterbacks on the field for the first time since his conditional reinstatement Nov. 1. “I know what is in that box, but I just want to see how good it is. It is exciting that he will be back out there.”
Gordon recently said in a GQ interview that he previously played every game under the influence of alcohol or drugs, gaining 1,646 yards with nine TDs in 2013 while he wasn’t sober.
Gordon said he’s clean now because he went to a lengthy rehab for himself, not for someone else.
“At this point, I thought, ‘If I want any type of a life, if I wanted to live, [I’ll stop],’” he told GQ. “It was like: You’re never going back to f**king work ever if you can’t figure out how to live. Because at this point in time, the trajectory, you’re going to die. You’re going to kill yourself.”
Due to the extensive time he’s missed, Gordon probably won’t be asked to play extended snaps right away, as the Browns will likely ease him back into the flow of the offense. But, once he’s back up to full speed, Gordon’s return will be a boost for the Browns, who have gone 1-26 over the past two seasons and don’t have a playmaker close to his stature.
With a dazzling blend of size, speed and strength, he was once one of the league’s most dynamic wide receivers, and the Browns can’t wait to see if he can get close to that level again.