BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – At 0-11 Hue Jackson and the Browns are desperate for any sign of hope, or life.
And so they turn to Josh Gordon.
Gordon, who returns from suspension following multiple stints in rehab facilities over the last 3 years for substance abuse problems, was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Nov. 1 and is eligible to be activated for this week’s game against the Chargers in Los Angeles.
“Oh boy, let me tell you. I got big plans for him,” Jackson said with a big smile. “I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle.”
Gordon hasn’t played in a regular season game since a 17-13 loss at Carolina Dec. 21, 2014 but he opened everyone’s eyes during practice last week. His size, speed, ease running routes and ability to catch footballs filled Jackson, his coaches, the front office and entire team with excitement.
“Hopefully, Josh will come back and bring a different spirit to our offensive football team and football team and he can make some plays,” Jackson said. “If he does that, then he will be doing just what we need him to do. I think the players have seen him out there and they have seen what he can do. I think they are excited about him playing and about playing with him. That within itself will bring something to this football team.”
Jackson said they will wait a few days before officially activating Gordon from the reserve/suspended list, which is a procedural situation for the organization.
Make no mistake about it, Jackson is excited to get No. 12 on the field Sunday in Los Angeles.
“It gives me energy, which means I’m gonna give them energy,” Jackson said. “I think the players have seen him out there, seen what he can do and they’re excited to be playing with him.”
Gordon has missed the Browns’ last 44 games and 54 of 59 but since being denied reinstatement in March Gordon has met the league’s requirements to return to the field.
Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer plans to spend a little extra time this week with Gordon in an effort to build some chemistry with him.
“With his speed and size, he is obviously a tremendous talent, and we are looking forward to allowing him make some big plays for us,” Kizer said. “It is going to be on me to make sure I spend as much time as I can with him and understand the way he thinks and the way he wants the ball in his hand and make sure I can put it there for him.”
Left guard Joel Bitonio remembers the last time that Gordon returned from a suspension – Nov. 23, 2014, a 26-24 win at Atlanta that pushed the Browns to 7-4 on the season and saw Gordon catch 8 passes for 120 yards following a 10-game ban.
“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, I think 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 when he had  games 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.”
Last week Jackson said he didn’t want to view Gordon as a “savior” but following yet another double-digit loss that’s where he and the Browns stand.
Gordon’s talent is exactly what they need.
He also may be their only hope to help them actually win a game.