Browns' Gordon grateful upon return to practice field
BEREA, Ohio (AP) After he was suspended from the NFL for a year, Josh Gordon didn't know if he'd ever take the practice field for the Cleveland Browns again.
On Monday, Gordon put on his pads beneath a brown No. 12 uniform for the first time in nearly two years, following his activation from the non-football injury list.
''I missed it, being back here,'' Gordon said. ''I was hoping for the best and I was blessed to get an opportunity to come back.''
The previous time Gordon practiced for Cleveland was Dec. 26, 2014. Less than two months later, he was suspended indefinitely for multiple violations of the NFL's drug policies.
Even upon reinstatement into the league by Commissioner Roger Goodell on July 25, Gordon wasn't sure if the new Browns regime would want him to be part of the organization.
He was still suspended for the first four regular-season games of 2016 and was bringing plenty of baggage back to the Browns.
As it turns out, the team's front office and new coach Hue Jackson were ready to welcome him with a clean slate.
''I'm grateful to them. I definitely am,'' Gordon said. ''They're not looking at my past and I'm not trying to look back toward that. We're just ready to move forward.''
Jackson, after watching the receiver practice, was seemingly glad to have made that decision.
''It was great,'' Jackson said. ''It was good to watch him move around, catch the ball and be involved with his teammates. As I said, he's done a great job and we're just working our plan.''
While Gordon was permitted by Goodell to practice with the team during training camp, a quad injury he suffered during individual offseason workouts prevented him from taking the field for the first two weeks of training camp.
Now that he's healed enough to practice, Gordon thinks he can still be the same player that finished with 1,646 yards receiving during a Pro Bowl season in 2013.
''I'm the same guy. I'm definitely the same guy. I'm confident in my abilities,'' Gordon said. ''I definitely am aware of what I can do and I think I can build upon that and do even better.''
Starting quarterback Robert Griffin III is well aware of the abilities that Gordon mentioned.
Having played with the receiver at Baylor, Griffin has seen Gordon's skills first-hand and is excited to have the chance to work with him again.
''We had some great games, some great times together and we're looking forward to really building that here in Cleveland,'' Griffin said. ''I know he'll be ready when he steps out there.''
Gordon's status for Thursday's exhibition game against the Atlanta Falcons is in the air. With just two days of practice before the game, it's unlikely the receiver will play.
Jackson feels that Gordon doesn't necessarily need to play this week. It's far more important for the Browns to be patient with the pass catcher rather than rush him back into action.
''We're just working the process,'' Jackson said. ''This is the next step in the process for him to get out, catch balls, start getting involved and running around a little bit.''
When he does get the opportunity to play in his first game since Dec. 21, 2014, Gordon will appreciate it more than ever.
But in the meantime, he's just happy to be able to practice again.
''I think every day I'm back, it means a lot to me,'' Gordon said. ''This opportunity we have here is like nothing I've felt before or seen before and I really want to be a part of it.''
NOTES: Rookie WR Corey Coleman (hamstring) returned to practice for the first time in almost two weeks, after getting injured in a scrimmage. ... LT Joe Thomas (back), QB Austin Davis (concussion) WR Andrew Hawkins (hamstring), WR Ricardo Louis (hamstring), DL John Hughes (personal) and DB K'Waun Williams (personal) were all held out of practice on Monday. ... DL Jamie Meder took part in first-team reps for the Browns, as Jackson said the former un-drafted free agent earned them for good play in the team's first exhibition game against Green Bay. ... Monday's practice was the last open to fans and according to the Browns, the team drew nearly 18,000 attendees over nearly three weeks of training camp.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP-NFL