Josh Gordon OK’d to practice, but hamstring issue holds him back
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Josh Gordon got the go-ahead from the NFL to practice. Now one of his hamstrings is holding him back.
The former Pro Bowl wide receiver, whose career has been derailed by drug and alcohol addictions, was released by the league on Saturday to resume all on-field activities with the Browns after being limited to attending meetings, working out and watching practice since returning from a three-week absence.
“He’s now cleared to return to all activities, including games,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to The Associated Press.
Gordon took part in the team’s pre-practice walk-through on the field after the team removed him from the active/non-football injury list. The team was going to bring him along slowly, and then that plan got altered because Gordon “tweaked” his hamstring a few days ago.
“I am not going to put him out there until I think he is totally ready to go,” coach Hue Jackson said following practice. “Hopefully, we will work through that. A little minor setback, but we will get him out there soon.”
The Browns have eagerly awaited the chance to get Gordon back on the field since he returned on Aug. 24 after leaving on the eve of training camp to receive treatment and counseling in Florida connected to his struggle with drug and alcohol dependence.
Jackson had hoped to play the 27-year-old receiver in this week’s exhibition finale against Detroit, so Gordon would be ready to face Pittsburgh in the Sept. 9 opener. However, the hamstring issue has put everything on hold.
Jackson said it’s unlikely that Gordon will face the Lions on Thursday.
“I don’t want to stick him out there if there’s a chance we will not have him for the opener,” Jackson said. “I want to make sure he’s ready to go.”
Following the morning walk-through, Gordon chatted with fellow receiver Jarvis Landry while walking back to the team’s facility. The Browns said Gordon will speak to the media Monday.
Gordon, who has played in just 10 games since 2013 because of league-imposed suspensions, left the Browns before training camp opened to receive treatment as part of his recovery.
His latest return has come in phases, but linebacker Christian Kirksey said it was great to see Gordon making positive steps.
“He just brings that energy back,” Kirksey said. “I was excited to see him. We all know what Josh can do and I’m just ready for when he gets back to the next step or whatever he’s got to do — and just get in that equipment.
“I want to see him excel. He’s a talented young man. He has God-given ability and we’re fully behind him. I know the things he’s capable of doing and I’m just excited to see him get the opportunity to go showcase his talent and the proper steps he needs to take to be fully ready.”
With Gordon on the field, Cleveland will have one of league’s most potent receiving groups. The team remains interested in signing former Dallas star Dez Bryant. The free agent visited the Browns last week and the sides have remained in contact.
The thought of Gordon, Landry and Bryant together on the same team is intriguing.
When healthy, Gordon is one of the league’s premier playmakers. He led the NFL with 1,646 yards receiving in 2013, and the Browns are hoping he can help them this season.
“It’s very exciting because it just opens up another dimension for our offense,” Browns safety Damarious Randall said. “Once Josh gets going, he is going to demand double teams. You want guys that are going to demand two guys. So now it makes it a bit easier for the quarterback, the running game, you name it. I’m just looking forward to seeing him out there on the field catching passes.”
NOTES: QB Tyrod Taylor practiced despite dislocating his left pinky in Thursday’s win over Philadelphia. Taylor’s hand was wrapped for protection. … Rookie CB Denzel Ward practiced two days after suffering back spasms while making a tackle. The first-round pick got twisted as he brought down Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. … Starting RG Kevin Zeitler (calf) and rookie WR Antonio Callaway (groin) also practiced after missing time. … S Damarious Randall (knee) remains sidelined after his knee “locked up” during warmups Thursday.
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