The Cleveland Browns are still awaiting a final ruling on Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon, but Browns coach Mike Pettine said Sunday the team is preparing to play at least part of the 2014 season without Gordon.
Gordon was held out of Saturday night’s game vs. St. Louis, five nights after Pettine said he talked to Gordon about giving maximum effort following a lackluster performance at Washington.
Pettine said Gordon had a minor injury that kept him out of the St. Louis game — and that the Browns aren’t sure of the next time they’ll have Gordon available for a game.
"It was not sending a message," Pettine said. "Knowing that the decision is looming — that we’re fairly certain that we’re not going to have him for a minimum of some part of the year — we wanted to make sure that we were getting repetitions with the guys that are going to be out there early."
Gordon’s appeal of stage 3 violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy was heard over two days in early August. The NFL has said nothing and the Browns have claimed they’re waiting like everyone else since word of the suspension first broke in May.
"(Holding Gordon out Saturday) wasn’t anything from a punishment standpoint or anything like that," Pettine said. "It was just common sense."
Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards last season despite missing two games due to a substance-abuse policy-related suspension. He’s facing DUI charges from earlier this month, though that case is separate from the drug situation in regards to potential NFL punishment.
In his Sunday conference call after the Browns slipped to 0-3 in the preseason, Pettine said cornerback Buster Skrine is on track to return from thumb surgery in time for the Sept. 7 season opener and that the Browns have not yet made any cuts in getting the roster to 75 players by the Tuesday deadline.
The Browns play their final preseason game at home Thursday vs. Chicago.