Talk about putting a damper on what was supposed to be a big season for Josh Gordon, the Cleveland Browns’ uber-talented young wide receiver.
Reports out of OTAs had nothing but great things to say about Gordon, ranging from him being the most physically gifted receiver on the Browns’ roster to catching everything that came his way. All appeared to be in place for Gordon to enjoy a breakout year after showing glimpses of greatest during his rookie campaign.
Unfortunately, the latest development will force Gordon to sit out the first two games of the 2013 season, as he has been suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. It was always assumed that Gordon would be the only one capable of holding himself back, and that now more than ever appears to be the case.
While Gordon has stated that the substance was codeine, which he ingested via cough medicine while fighting strep throat back in February, the second-year receiver isn’t new to off-field concerns. A top prospect at Baylor, failing two drug tests forced him to look elsewhere to continue his collegiate career. He took his talents to Utah, but another positive test saw him enter the 2012 Supplemental Draft, during which the Browns scooped him up in the second round.
Now headed for Stage 3 of the NFL’s drug program, Gordon is one misstep away from finding himself out of the league for a year. Not a promising situation for a 22-year-old with plenty of unrealized potential.
Despite this significant speed bump, the Browns should still have high expectations for Gordon in 2013. With a full year under his belt, the natural playmaker should return in Week 3 with plenty to offer the Cleveland offense. Especially in Norv Turner’s new vertical passing scheme, Gordon will have dozens of opportunities this year to take the lid off defenses and strike paydirt.
Gordon racked up 805 yards and five touchdowns on 50 receptions during his rookie season while playing in a lackluster offense and receiving passes thrown from an uncomfortable, inexperienced quarterback.
Now that Brandon Weeden has some confidence and Turner has injected some aggressiveness into the Browns offense, Gordon will have every chance to prove that he can take that next step towards being an upper-echelon NFL wide receiver.
Of course, that’s after his suspension is up.