Melvin Gordon of Chargers questionable for Sunday’s London game vs. Titans

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers downgraded running back Melvin Gordon to questionable for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

A source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Gordon “will most likely be a game-time decision.”

Gordon did not appear on the injury report until the team’s practice on Friday in London, when he was listed as limited due to a hamstring injury.

Gordon has not missed a game this season. The Wisconsin product is third in the NFL and leads the AFC with 466 rushing yards.

The fourth-year running back has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the past three games, including 132 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns in last Sunday’s 38-14 win over Cleveland.

Gordon played a full 16-game season for the first time last year, finishing with 342 touches in 2017, fourth in the NFL. Gordon finished without a touchdown his rookie season, but since the start of the 2016 season, he has 33 scores. Only Todd Gurley (36) has more.

“I think it was just sore,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said when asked about Gordon after practice Friday. “We had a long plane ride. He probably didn’t drink enough water.

“We were just being extra cautious with him, and we just held him out today [Friday]. It would have been the third practice that he has been on field turf. With his knees and ankles, I don’t think that’s good for him at all, so we just held him out.”

Austin Ekeler will likely be the starter if Gordon is unable to play. The second-year back is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has three receiving touchdowns this season.

The Chargers also announced that they had signed running back Detrez Newsome to the 53-man roster. The rookie out of Western Carolina has one rush for the Chargers in three games this season.

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Feed the beast: Chargers’ Melvin Gordon developing into a closer – Los Angeles Chargers Blog

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Russell Okung played with one of the best closers in the game when he arrived in the NFL as a first-round draft pick for the Seattle Seahawks.

Once Seattle got a lead, they would turn and hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch and make tired defenders tackle the bruising runner in the fourth quarter.

Now a left tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, Okung sees a similar mindset developing in running back Melvin Gordon.

“It’s what I’ve been saying since I got here,” Okung said. “I tell Mel every day, ‘Hey, you could be special, man. Just buy in and understand what we’re trying to do.’ And it makes complete sense when he goes out there why he’s having the sort of games he’s having.

“He’s a guy that understands the offense really well. He sets us up to have success up front. And when he gets past the defensive line — watch out.”

One of the reasons the Chargers (4-2) are riding a three-game winning streak is the play of Gordon. The Wisconsin product is third in the league in rushing with 466 yards, and fourth in yards from scrimmage with 745. He has scored nine touchdowns.

Gordon grounded out 132 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Cleveland Browns last week.

But what has been most impressive is Gordon’s ability to churn out yards when the defense knows the Chargers are going to run the football — on first down and in the fourth quarter.

“I think he’s kind of been [trending up] his whole career, little by little and just becoming more of a complete back,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “Gosh, he’s just hard to tackle. He’s running hard and he has worked at it. I think it’s shown. I think he had a heck of a season last year, but he’s definitely running well.”

Gordon averages 5.3 yards per rush on first down — 2 yards better than the 3.3 yards per carry he averaged on first down last year. And he’s averaging a robust 8 yards per carry in the fourth quarter this season, helping the Chargers close out games late by keeping the chains moving.

“He has been driven to get his game to another level, and I think we’re seeing the benefit to that,” Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. “He’s worked hard. He’s studied it.”

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was looking for a workhorse running back who could finish games when he took the job in January of last year, and Gordon has developed into that for the Chargers.

“I love the way he’s running,” Lynn said. “He’s inspiring our entire sideline, the way he runs when he gets violent.”

One of the reasons for Gordon’s success this season has been the addition of Mike Pouncey. The Pro Bowl center has brought a nastiness to the offensive line in the running game.

“When you have the athleticism and the power, you can run inside with Pouncey and you can the perimeter with Pouncey,” Lynn said. “And I love his mindset, his mentality. I think that’s contagious.”

Gordon played a full, 16-game season for the first time last year, finishing with 342 touches in 2017, No. 4 in the NFL. Gordon finished without a touchdown his rookie season, but since the start of the 2016 season he now has scored 33 — only Todd Gurley (34) has more.

“It’s just my mindset and the guys around me as well,” said Gordon, when asked about the frequency he’s getting in the end zone. “Those boys are willing to make it happen for me, so hats off to those guys for bringing me in there.”

Gordon is not worried about overuse, believing that he and third-down back Austin Ekeler can carry the running back load for the Chargers.

An undrafted rookie out of Western State Colorado, Ekeler has combined with Gordon to give the Chargers an explosive, 1-2 combo at running back.

Ekeler (470) and Gordon have 1,215 yards from scrimmage, and are pace to break last year’s NFL combined yards from scrimmage record for a running back duo of 3,094 yards set by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints.

“Any time you have a back like Melvin, a big force doing what he does, he’s a hard guy to bring down,” Okung said. “You keep doing that over and over, guys start missing tackles. And before you know it, it’s a tough two, a tough three and then a big seven, a big 20. Mel is incredible.”

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New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon building bond with Tom Brady

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon described his growing bond with quarterback Tom Brady as a “real natural type of relationship,” while adding Friday that he is settling in nicely in the move from Cleveland to the suburbs of Boston.

Gordon was acquired in a Sept. 17 trade and assigned a locker directly next to Brady’s.

“Most of the day, we end up talking football, whether it be in the locker room here briefly or in most of the meeting rooms or time after practice. We carve out time, and we make it happen,” Gordon said after practice, as the Patriots put the finishing touches on preparations for Sunday night’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. “We make sure if there’s something that might be a concern for him or me, or he wants to know how I like to do something, or I want to know how he wants to do something, I just ask and he’s open about it. It makes it easy for me to communicate with him and makes it a real natural type of relationship.”

Gordon has played 18 snaps apiece over the past two games and caught a 34-yard touchdown on Oct. 4 against the Indianapolis Colts, a play Brady said reflects the evolving trust between them.

“It hasn’t been too tough,” Gordon said of learning the playbook. “I think that’s greatly due in part to the amount of help I receive from teammates here — definitely Tom, all the receivers help bring me along on a daily basis, the coaches, just giving me all the resources I need and me taking advantage of it, going home and studying it daily.

“I think having a certain amount of experience in the league already and seeing so many different offenses and stuff, I think the language of it is somewhat familiar.”

As for how he is managing off the field, Gordon credited Patriots character coach Jack Easterby for a “very hands-on” approach that has helped him acclimate to his new surroundings.

“It’s been an awesome transition. I appreciate the love and support,” Gordon said. “Foxborough is a real nice town, nice and quiet and peaceful. Me and my girlfriend are making it home. My family is here now. I consider the people in this community and around it, you know, family. They treat us nice everywhere we go. It’s been a great experience.”

Gordon also explained a recent tweet that he sent out to his followers.

“I just love reading inspirational quotes and sharing them with people,” he said. “People send me stuff all the time to read, and I just like to spread the good knowledge, good health and goodwill.”

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Julian Edelman says Josh Gordon made strong first impression with New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Julian Edelman said Thursday that fellow New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon has made a strong first impression, and he believes bigger things are ahead for Gordon.

“Dude works hard. Great teammate. I really think he can be a really big piece of us,” Edelman said after the team’s walkthrough practice in preparation for Sunday night’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It’s exciting to be around him. He loves football, you can tell. He knows his stuff. It’s getting more and more fun the more he knows.”

Gordon caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts, but he has only played on a part-time basis over two games (18 snaps apiece), in part because he’s still limited by a hamstring injury.

Brady previously said his touchdown throw to Gordon, a deep ball into double coverage in the end zone, was reflective of the trust he has built with Gordon in a short period of time. The Patriots acquired Gordon — who has four catches for 82 yards — from the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 17 for a fifth-round draft choice.

The inclusion of Gordon in the attack, along with Edelman’s return last week from a four-game NFL suspension to open the season, has added a spark to the Patriots’ passing game. Edelman had seven catches for 57 yards in his return against the Colts.

“It’s getting better each day,” Edelman said of his transition back to football, adding that returning to practice has allowed him to build his confidence in competitive situations. “I feel like my conditioning is pretty good. You’re always working to get it better.”

Of Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs, he said, “We’re playing an undefeated team that looks unbelievable. We’ve got a battle. If you love football, this is why you play — games like this. Two tough teams. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Having missed all of the 2017 season with a torn ACL, and then sitting out due to suspension, Edelman’s appreciation for the game has grown that much greater.

“You definitely appreciate it once you’ve been away, and I was away for a year and some change,” he said. “It’s good to be out with the fellas. Meetings can get on you a little bit here and there, but you realize you need it. It’s good to be back.”

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Fantasy fallout: Can Josh Gordon, Aaron Jones become game-changers? – NFL Nation

Two weeks into last season, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara had just eight carries for 21 yards, seven catches for 71 yards and zero touchdowns before he went bonkers and won the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

It’s impossible to predict that level of eruption for anybody who has been lying dormant through the first two weeks of 2018. But if your fantasy team is 0-2 and you feel like you need to swing for the fences, Josh Gordon and Aaron Jones are a couple of intriguing high-ceiling options.

Gordon’s upside is obvious, since he led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013 and has now teamed up with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But the downside is pretty glaring, as well, since he has missed more than 50 games since then because of suspensions and addiction issues, and the Cleveland Browns finally decided to give up on him this week.

As ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss wrote, Gordon “could turn out to be a big steal, or he might quickly fall off as the non-factor that he has mostly been over the past four seasons.”

Although you may have visions of Randy Moss’ 2007 debut with the Patriots dancing in your head (98 catches, 1,493 yards, 23 touchdown catches), Reiss also mentioned some of the low-risk fliers who haven’t worked out as well for New England over the years (such as Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth and Michael Floyd).

And since the Patriots only paid a “drop in the bucket” to acquire Gordon, Reiss stressed that “history has shown they won’t be hesitant to move on quickly if he can’t be a reliable teammate or fit into the team’s hard-driving culture.”

With all of that being said, Gordon still has immense talent. And he has a great opportunity to revive his career with a legendary team that happens to need a big-play receiver.

Reiss said he expects a limited package for Gordon initially — assuming Gordon’s hamstring injury doesn’t keep him inactive this week. But, Reiss said, “if everything clicks — and that’s a big ‘if’ — he should be in the top three receivers, and they run plenty of three-receiver sets.”



Matthew Berry explains the thought process behind not ranking Aaron Jones for Week 3.

Likewise, ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky doesn’t expect an immediate breakout performance from Jones, who returned from a two-game suspension this week. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Jones will have a “secondary role” behind Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.

However, Demovsky said, “I’ve thought all along that at some point this season Jones would be their lead back” — especially if injuries creep up at some point for Williams or Montgomery.

“There’s little doubt that Jones is the most dynamic of the Packers’ top three running backs,” wrote Demovsky, who pointed out that in games when Jones has touched the ball since the start of last season, Green Bay has averaged 125.9 rushing yards — compared to 79.0 without him.

As a rookie last season, Jones had four games with a carry of at least 20 yards. And his 5.5-yard rushing average ranked No. 2 among all NFL backs with at least 75 carries (behind only Kamara).

New RB1s in San Francisco, Denver?

Just as everyone predicted, the NFL’s rushing leader through two weeks is Matt Breida. Even more unlikely — the San Francisco 49ers‘ second-year running back isn’t even leading his own team in carries or snaps. Breida has run for 184 yards on just 22 carries, while Alfred Morris has 86 yards on 26 carries.

Obviously Breida has been extremely efficient with those touches. As ESPN 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner pointed out, even if you take away Breida’s 66-yard touchdown run from last week, he is still averaging 5.6 yards on the rest of his carries. So, yes, the undrafted 5-foot-11, 190-pounder should get more opportunities to be San Francisco’s leading man as the season goes.

But Wagoner said 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan trusts the veteran Morris and will keep him involved — especially in situations like the four-minute offense where they want to churn out tough yards.

“I don’t think Breida will get 20 carries a game, but I think it will start edging more toward like 15-17 for Breida and 8-10 for Morris,” Wagoner predicted.

Meanwhile, ESPN Denver Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold described a similar situation in the Broncos’ backfield, where undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay has been the surprise breakout of 2018 so far. The dynamic 5-8, 190-pounder became the first undrafted player in NFL history with more than 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two games (a total of 29 carries for 78 yards, plus three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown).

Legwold said he still expects the bigger, more physical rookie Royce Freeman to get work — and he also mentioned the four-minute offense as an example of when Freeman would be more involved, as well as heavy goal-line packages. So far, Freeman has 23 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown, with no catches.

Legwold pointed out that third running back Devontae Booker actually got more snaps than Freeman last week (22-16), but he said he doesn’t expect that to happen often.

“They love Lindsay’s production for sure, but I think they still feel like for him to have consistent impact throughout the season, they’ll have to manage his touches. He is a rookie and he isn’t built like a traditional lug-the-rock guy,” said Legwold, who also pointed out Lindsay plays a key role on special teams, which the Broncos have made a priority.

Quick hits

Philadelphia Eagles: Quarterback Carson Wentz is back from last year’s torn ACL. And as ESPN Eagles reporter Tim McManus wrote, he is setting the bar high for his 2018 debut.

“I feel extremely confident moving around, on the run,” Wentz said. And coach Doug Pederson insisted he’s not going to “coach scared.”

McManus also wrote an in-depth piece on how Wentz got through his comeback with help from his mental coach, his new wife and others.

Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore has made it a big priority to get Alex Collins and the run game off the ground, as ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley wrote. Collins has just 48 yards on 16 carries, and Baltimore ranks 30th in the NFL at 3.3 yards per carry.

Collins lost a fumble in Week 1, but that doesn’t appear to have affected his workload. The bigger issue, Hensley said, is the unique way that the first two games played out. The Ravens took a huge lead against the Bills in Week 1 and rested Collins for most of the second half, then they fell behind early against the Bengals in Week 2 and abandoned the run.

“I mean, yeah come on, we want to get the ball in Alex’s hands,” Flacco said. “He’s a playmaker, man. He’s dynamic.”

Carolina Panthers: As ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton wrote, Christian McCaffrey is on pace to obliterate the NFL record for receptions in a season by a running back (102 by Matt Forte in 2014). McCaffrey has 20 already, including a franchise-record-tying 14 this past week.

“When I look at him coming out of the backfield I think of LaDainian Tomlinson. He just creates so many mismatches,” said veteran Panthers safety Mike Adams — a comparison that’s not too crazy, considering that former Chargers coach Norv Turner is Carolina’s new offensive coordinator.

Miami Dolphins: Albert Wilson has been a fun addition as a “do-everything” receiver/running back/wildcat quarterback. As ESPN Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe wrote, some wondered where Wilson would fit when he signed a three-year, $24 million deal in March. But coach Adam Gase had a plan for him, “and we are starting to see it.”

Unfortunately, the Dolphins’ receiving corps is too crowded to consider Wilson a reliable fantasy play — especially with DeVante Parker poised to return from a broken finger this week. Wolfe said Kenny Stills remains the safest fantasy bet. But he added Parker should be worth a roster spot in 12- or 14-team leagues because he is Miami’s biggest receiver and should eventually return to getting a steady share of the snaps.

Cincinnati Bengals: Running back Joe Mixon is expected to miss two to four weeks after having surgery to repair what he called a “slight tear” in his meniscus. As ESPN Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell wrote, Mixon said he feels great already and will return as soon as he feels comfortable enough to “run full speed and cut on a dime.”

Los Angeles Chargers: Remember when RB Melvin Gordon scored zero touchdowns as a rookie? Now he has a knack for finding the end zone, as ESPN Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams wrote. QB Philip Rivers said on one of Gordon’s three touchdowns last week, he was getting ready to throw to receiver Tyrell Williams before spotting Gordon “mid-delivery.”

Seattle Seahawks: As ESPN Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson wrote, rookie tight end Will Dissly‘s breakout start (147 yards and two touchdowns) is even more surprising when you consider Seattle liked him because he was the draft’s best blocking tight end. Coach Pete Carroll told ESPN 710 Radio in Seattle that he found himself hollering, “It’s Mike Ditka!” during Dissly’s 66-yard score in Week 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Some interesting fantasy notes included in the latest update on Le’Veon Bell‘s contract holdout from ESPN Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler: Drafters who took Bell No. 1 overall in ESPN leagues have a winning percentage of 43.5, compared to 65.2 for those who drafted Todd Gurley first.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Keelan Cole has emerged as Jacksonville’s No. 1 receiver even faster than expected with 10 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown, according to ESPN Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco, who said it’s clear that QB Blake Bortles trusts him. DiRocco also explored why Bortles has been statistically better in games without standout RB Leonard Fournette.

Detroit Lions: Detroit’s pass-run ratio has been historically lopsided, according to ESPN Lions reporter Michael Rothstein. If they can get that corrected, Rothstein thinks rookie RB Kerryon Johnson is a good buy-low candidate. “At some point, he should take over,” Rothstein said of Detroit’s time share.

Houston Texans: Receiver Will Fuller had a big game in his 2018 debut (eight catches, 113 yards and a TD). As ESPN Texans reporter Sarah Barshop wrote, his presence also helped Houston spread the ball around and take attention away from fellow receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had six catches for 110 yards and a TD.

Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott seemed to find another gear in Week 3 in each of his first two seasons. ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer said the team is hoping that trend will continue.

Green Bay Packers: Demovsky also wrote this week about the emergence of young receiver Geronimo Allison in Green Bay. You can also find regular updates on QB Aaron Rodgers‘ health on the Packers’ team page.

Kansas City Chiefs/49ers: Last but not least, some fun stories on two of the NFL’s fastest men, who will take the same field this week — Kansas City’s “Cheetah” receiver Tyreek Hill and 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin. According to Wagoner, when Goodwin was asked how his speed stacks up to Hill’s, he said he doesn’t compare himself to anybody — then he rolled up his sleeve to reveal the forearm tattoo commemorating his appearance in the 2012 Olympics.

Meanwhile, ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher wrote about how Hill wants to become known as more than just the NFL’s fastest receiver.

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Limited risk for Patriots in acquiring talented Josh Gordon – New England Patriots Blog

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Wide receiver Josh Gordon could turn out to be a big steal for the New England Patriots, or he might quickly fall off as the non-factor that he has mostly been over the past four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

In the end, a fifth-round draft choice is a modest price to pay for the chance to see if Gordon’s talent might emerge again — especially given the depleted state of the Patriots’ wide receiver corps.

The Patriots also have significant draft capital in 2019: a first-round pick, two second-rounders (one from Chicago) and a third-rounder, with the expectation that they could receive two additional third-round compensatory picks for losing offensive tackle Nate Solder and cornerback Malcolm Butler in free agency.

So a fifth-rounder is a drop in the bucket, and is consistent with Bill Belichick’s past approach of aggressively filling areas of short-term need.

Sometimes that can lead to a notable hit.

Other times, it’s a big miss, such as acquiring receiver Chad Ochocinco in 2011 for fifth- and sixth-round picks, or defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for a fifth-round pick that same year. Both players fizzled out quickly.

What makes Gordon a bit different from any past situation, however, is that one of the hallmarks of the Patriots’ well-established program is dependability — an area Gordon struggled with in Cleveland.

In that sense, the move reminds me of when the Patriots claimed wide receiver Michael Floyd on waivers in December 2016. Floyd had been arrested for driving under the influence (he later pled guilty for extreme DUI), was waived by the Arizona Cardinals, and the Patriots swooped in to see if he could help a short-handed unit as they prepared to make a Super Bowl run.

As Bill Belichick often says, a player gets a clean slate upon his arrival and the main risk to the Patriots with Floyd was more financial, as the remainder of his salary ($1.3 million) was a significant price to pay with three regular-season games and a playoff run ahead of them.

Floyd ultimately provided insurance while making a minimal contribution — his signature moment coming in the regular-season finale with a crushing block to free receiver Julian Edelman on a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown, which came after he had scored on a 14-yard reception earlier in the game. He was inactive for the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LI.

Given what they are working with now, the Patriots would gladly take those types of contributions from Gordon in the short-term, with the hope for more in the long run. At the same time, as history has shown, they won’t be hesitant to move on quickly if he can’t be a reliable teammate, or fit into the team’s hard-driving culture.

Belichick has long said that when the Patriots bring a player onto the team, it gets everything that comes with him — and with Gordon there’s a lot to digest with the everything.

But in the end, a fifth-round pick is minimal risk to see how it all might come together.

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Josh Gordon to be released by Cleveland Browns on Monday

CLEVELAND — Josh Gordon‘s troubled tenure with the Cleveland Browns has ended.

The team announced Saturday night that it intends to release the former Pro Bowl wide receiver, whose immense talent has been overshadowed by substance abuse that has derailed a promising career.

The stunning news came just hours after the Browns said Gordon would miss Sunday’s game in New Orleans with a hamstring injury. Gordon has been suspended by the NFL for most of the past four seasons because of multiple drug violations, and the Browns have been supportive of him for years as he tried to get his life together.

Not anymore.

“This afternoon we informed Josh Gordon and his representatives that we are going to release him on Monday,” general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “For the past six years, the Browns have fully supported and invested in Josh, both personally and professionally and wanted the best for him, but unfortunately we’ve reached a point where we feel it’s best to part ways and move forward. We wish Josh well.”

The Browns provided no details behind their decision to part ways with Gordon, but a source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that Gordon broke the team’s “trust” when he reported to the facility with a hamstring issue after being a full participant in practice all week.

The source said there were other “mitigating factors” inclusive of present and past incidents.

The Browns declared Gordon out with a hamstring injury earlier in the day and left him in Cleveland before the team departed for New Orleans to play the Saints on Sunday.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Gordon hurt his hamstring at a promotional shoot, not at practice.

Gordon, 27, missed three weeks of training camp this summer to undergo counseling and treatment, and he recently said he was in a good place mentally and physically.

He played in last week’s season opener against Pittsburgh, his first appearance in a Week 1 game since 2012, when he was a rookie.

Gordon was expected to have an expanded role this week against the Saints after being targeted just three times in a tie against Pittsburgh. He caught a game-tying, 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Steelers, but was mostly used as a decoy.

Gordon started the opener despite coach Hue Jackson saying he wouldn’t be on the field for the first snap as punishment for missing camp. Jackson blamed Gordon’s appearance on the first play to a “mistake” and “miscommunication.”

Jackson refused to elaborate on the situation this week, saying he and the coaching staff wanted to “move on.”

A source told Schefter that teams already are calling the Browns, who are likely to trade Gordon before he is released. Gordon is a vested veteran and is not subject to waivers. If he is cut by the Browns, he will become a free agent.

Gordon emerged as one of pro football’s most dynamic players in 2013, when he led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns. Gordon was suspended for the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons.

He sat out the first 11 games last year before returning for Cleveland’s final five games.

The Browns selected Gordon in the 2012 supplemental draft despite his background of drug use in college.

With Gordon gone, the Browns’ passing game will rely more heavily on wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins. Antonio Callaway could also get more looks.

Cleveland also brought in free-agent Dez Bryant for a visit last month during training camp, but the two sides failed to reach a deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cleveland Browns rule out WR Josh Gordon with hamstring injury

The Cleveland Browns ruled out wide receiver Josh Gordon for Sunday’s game against the Saints because of a hamstring injury.

Gordon, who was only added to the injury list on Saturday after complaining of soreness in his leg, caught just one pass for a 17-yard touchdown in the Browns’ Week 1 tie with the Steelers.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor targeted Gordon just three times, but coach Hue Jackson said earlier this week that some early-season miscommunication was at play, and that the Browns still had big plans for the receiver’s role this season.

“Josh, when he is going like we know he can, he has an opportunity to make plays,” Jackson said Wednesday. “He has to continue to work to be in the right spot. We have to give him opportunities, and I think that we will do that.”

Gordon returned to action last season after a nearly three-year absence and played in five games, catching 18 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. He missed the 2015 season because of a drug suspension and opted to spend 2016 in rehab.

The 27-year-old, who also dealt with a hamstring issue in training camp, said this week that he wasn’t concerned with his lack of targets against Pittsburgh.

“I think I went out there and served my purpose and did whatever I was supposed to do, whether it was to distract the safety or get somebody else open,” he said. “More than anything, I did not even think about the targets until somebody mentioned that at the end of the game. I am just going to keep on running until I have the opportunity.”

The Browns also ruled out starting linebacker Christian Kirksey (shoulder/ankle) and backup tight end Seth DeValve (hamstring) for the Week 2 game in New Orleans.

Kirksey, who had previously been listed as questionable, will miss the first game of his five-year career.

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Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon back on active roster, set to practice

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns are one step closer to having wide receiver Josh Gordon on the field.

The Browns have officially moved Gordon to the active list off the non-football injury list, which will allow the 2013 Pro Bowler to participate in walk-throughs beginning Saturday, a move that coincides with what head coach Hue Jackson said in his conference call on Friday.

“Josh Gordon is going to go into the second phase of the process that we have him on. He will definitely be involved in walk-throughs,” Jackson said. “He is definitely getting into the next process for us. He will definitely be involved in the walk-throughs and doing some other things.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that Gordon has been cleared for all activities, including games.

Gordon had left the team prior to the opening of training camp to get help with his mental health and returned to the team last week but was not able to participate in walk-throughs or practice after being place on the non-football injury list.

Jackson did not have a timetable as to when Gordon would be a full participant in practice or play in a game, but he did say last week that he would like to see Gordon play in the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions, but that the ultimate goal is the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 9.

“If there is a chance against Detroit at the end, it would be great,” Jackson said last week. “If not, my real goal is can we get him up and running by the time that we play Pittsburgh? I think that is really important.”

There is reason to be excited if Gordon can ever regain the form that saw him catch 87 passes for a franchise-record 1,646 yards in 2013, despite missing two games. But being on the field has been the problem throughout Gordon’s career, as he has played in just 10 games for the Browns in the past four seasons combined.

When Gordon gets back on the field, he will team up with Jarvis Landry, whom the Browns acquired this past offseason. Landry, who is coming off a year in which he led the NFL in receptions in 2017 with 112 and has averaged 105 catches per season over the past three years, is looking forward to playing with Gordon.

“I am excited to play with him, excited to work with him, and compete with him,” Landry said last week. “That’s what’s going to help us get to the level we need to be at to win games.”

Information from ESPN’s Ryan Isley was used in this report.

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Josh Gordon returns to Cleveland Browns

Wide receiver Josh Gordon has returned to the Cleveland Browns, expressing gratitude to the team for giving him time to work on his mental and physical health.

“As I humbly return to being a member of this team with an opportunity to get back to playing this game I love, I realize in order for me to reach my full potential my primary focus must remain on my sobriety and mental well-being,” Gordon said in a statement Saturday.

Gordon had been away from the team since it opened training camp last month. League sources had told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Gordon was seeking additional counseling to deal with his mental health and anxiety. The wide receiver has said that he typically used alcohol or marijuana when he was anxious, something he cannot do without another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Browns general manager John Dorsey said in a statement that Gordon will start by participating in meetings and conditioning. The wide receiver will gradually return to all football activities, Dorsey said.

The decision for Gordon to return to practice will include the doctors overseeing his counseling.

Dorsey praised Gordon’s “hard work, commitment and focus on becoming the best version of himself.”

“We are glad Josh has reached a point where he can return to our organization, be in our building and be around his teammates,” Dorsey added.

Gordon has missed most of the past three seasons because of suspensions stemming from violations of the substance abuse policy. The Browns had told Gordon to take the extra time away from the team in a proactive move, sources said.

He thanked the Browns, the NFL and the players’ association, among others, for helping him.

“This has by no means been an easy road and I’m extremely grateful to have all of you in my life,” Gordon said in his statement.

Information from ESPN’s Pat McManamon was used in this report.

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