Browns plan to play Gordon as much as possible vs. Chargers
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Josh Gordon's imminent return has the Browns buzzing.
Suddenly, there's a ray of hope in this dreary, dismal season.
With Gordon eligible to play on Sunday in Los Angeles for the first time in the regular season since 2014, coach Hue Jackson can barely contain his excitement in having the wide receiver back.
"My plans for him?" Jackson said Monday. "Oh boy, let me tell you, I have big plans for him."
Gordon's return has brought some badly needed optimism to the Browns (0-11), who are running out of time and games to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history.
A former All-Pro, Gordon, who led the league in yards receiving in 2013, is expected to be activated later this week and make his long-awaited return against the Chargers on Sunday.
Gordon returned to practice last week after being suspended for two seasons and dazzled his teammates, who can't wait to see if he can be the same electrifying player.
"I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle," Jackson said. "He's a very talented player. He needs to get out there and play, but we have to see where he is and make sure how much can he handle, how much can he do."
Gordon was eligible to come off the Commissioner's exempt list on Monday, but the Browns intend to wait until later in the week to activate him. The 26-year-old last played a regular-season game on Dec. 21, 2014.
Cleveland's roster has changed dramatically since then, but guard Joel Bitonio remembers when Gordon last returned from a suspension. On Nov. 23, 2014, Gordon caught eight passes for 120 yards as the Browns beat the Atlanta Falcons 26-24.
"Anytime you bring a player back of Josh's talent, it's going to bring a spark to the offense," Bitonio said.
"He's also been out of football for a while. So no matter how good a shape he's in, expectations have to be tempered a little bit, but I think there's going to be a jolt in practice, exciting.
"I don't know what the game plan is for him yet or anything like that yet, but he was an All-Pro. He was one of the best receivers in the game the last time he played and we're looking forward to bringing that spark. I think that helps protections, it helps the run game, that helps the quarterback and maybe the offense being lifted up will help the defense, too.
"It could be a big week for him."