In what was expected to be a quiet Saturday for the Cleveland Browns following their first preseason loss in two years Friday night turned into anything but that when wide receiver Josh Gordon announced that he will return to the team. After taking a leave of absence on July 23 and missing all of training camp thus far, it’s a welcome addition to a team looking to make major improvements in 2018.
He may be back in Cleveland, but Gordon can only attend meetings and practices and cannot participate until he passes the next phase of the process per the NFL’s substance abuse program. That doesn’t take away from the fact that his teammates are ecstatic to have him back in the fold.
Rookie receiver Damion Ratley didn’t hold back when asked about Gordon’s return. Ironically, with him back, it could mean that Ratley will have a tough time seeing the field in 2018, but the rookie wasn’t worried about that. Instead, he couldn’t have been more positive about Gordon.
“He is a monster. He is big. He is fast. He is physical. He has hands. Everything. He is an all-around athlete,” Ratley said of his teammate.
“It is lovely him being back. He adds another vet to the room and another coach for us. Just having him back, it stops the outside atmosphere of, ‘When is Josh coming back?’ He is back now, and he is ready to play. Getting him out there is going to be fun,” he said. “Get to learn from another guy besides (WR) Jarvis (Landry) now. It is good having him back. I watched a lot of plays that he made already. I have seen tape of him. I watched him play live. I have seen him play. He is a great player.”
While Ratley called Gordon a monster due to his ability to dominate when he is in fact on the field, his other Browns teammates didn’t hold back either. It seems as though all of Gordon’s peers are excited to have the receiver back, hoping that he can get back on the field sooner rather than later. Jarvis Landry spoke for all his teammates when he admitted that he is glad one of the team’s top playmakers on offense has returned to the team.
“It is great. We have been looking forward to it, and now that it is finally here, everybody is excited of course,” Landry said.
“He is a proven receiver in this league. Obviously, he is a playmaker. He is a guy who is going to give us the ability to do a lot of things. I know that we are excited about that.”
Although the veteran wide receiver just joined the Browns this offseason, he had a good sense that Gordon would be back with the team prior to the season. He’s looking forward to being co-leaders on a team that features plenty of young players.
“Yes, we have to be. We are the two of the older guys in the room so for us to step up by example if it is things that have to be said, getting them adjusted and moving forward and making plays.”
When Gordon had an incredible season in 2013, leading the league with 1,646 receiving yards to go along with nine touchdowns on 87 receptions in just 14 games, Landry took notice, even if he wasn’t even in the NFL yet. That’s one of the many reasons why he’s happy to have No. 12 back. Gordon being on the field will make things easier for Landry as well.
“Absolutely. I think when you have a year, especially the one that Josh had, it brings everybody’s eyes to it. He is an extremely great talent in this league, and he is physically gifted,” Landry said of the prolific season. “It shows. That is what you want to see.”
Linebacker Joe Schobert may be on the other side of the ball than Gordon, but he knows what the wideout can bring to the offense when he’s on the field.
“I think that it is a big boost for the team having Josh back in a healthy state of mind, a healthy mindset. We know it is best for him. He is going to help our offense, take the top off of the coverage and be more explosive than they already have been,” Schobert said. He adds an immediate home run threat that the defense has to account for. Even if they are not throwing the ball, the defense has to take him into account. Hopefully, it opens up seams inside where guys like (WR) Jarvis (Landry) and our running game can exploit.”
Still needing to be cleared by the NFL, with two preseason games remaining and the Browns 2018 season kicking off in less than 20 days, Landry believes Gordon will be suited up and playing in front of the Dawg Pound in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Yeah, I mean why not?” he said. “He’s been training this whole time, so we expect him to be ready. I’m sure he will be, but at the end of the day, we’re just happy to have him back.”
The Dawg Pound and even the team may need to pump the brakes a bit, but if Gordon can return to his normal form and stay on the field, the Browns may, in fact, have one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL. Fans are excited about that possibility and it seems as though players are as well.