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Browns' Josh Gordon prepares for long-awaited return: 'I expect to do something positive​'

BEREA — Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon shrugged off perceived pressure and the weight of expectations as he prepares to make his long-awaited return to the football field.

Gordon, who's set to play this weekend against the Chargers in Los Angeles, will make his first appearance in a regular-season NFL game in almost three years. 

And while the former Pro Bowler and league's leading receiving in 2013 acknowledged he could be rusty after such a lengthy absence, he's confident he can return to form as one of the game's most-electrifying players. 

"There's a question mark on it," Gordon said Thursday, "but I expect to do something positive."

He'll certainly have the chance.

Browns coach Hue Jackson was all smiles during his news conference, especially when he asked whether Gordon — who was conditionally reinstated earlier this month by commissioner Roger Goodell — would start this weekend.

"Heck yeah," Jackson said, laughing. "Are you kidding me?"

After all, Gordon could give Cleveland's struggling offense a major boost and a much-needed playmaker on the perimeter. Jackson also dismissed the idea that Gordon , who caught 87 passes for 1,646 and nine touchdowns in 2013, would be held on a pitch count Sunday.

"Pitch count? With this guy?" he said. "I want three years of that pitch count back out there right now. He's done a good job this week. He's worked extremely hard. I think he's excited about playing. It'll be a big day for him."

To be certain, Jackson struck a more serious tone Wednesday, saying Gordon — who hasn't played since Dec. 21, 2014, because of multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy and public struggle with addiction — must continue to earn his keep.

"I think the biggest thing is he still has to earn the right to be here. He earned the right to get back here. He has to earn the right to be here each and every day," Jackson said. 

"He has been outstanding thus far here. Again, I think all of the things I think were talked about were past behaviors. I think he understands that the antennas are up everywhere, and they should be. He has to do the work to make sure that those things are in his past."

Since rejoining the club and returning to practice last week, the reviews concerning Gordon have been overwhelmingly positive. Teammates say it's as if he hasn't missed a beat.

"He can do great things," second-year wide receiver Corey Coleman said. "Like I said, another playmaker to help us get a win. I'm just excited for him to be back and be on the other side of me."

"With his speed and size, he is obviously a tremendous talent, and we're looking forward to allowing him make some big plays for us," rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer added. "It's 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."

While it remains unclear how his debut unfolds, Gordon hopes to help lift the Browns to their first victory.

"I think I can do everything that's within my power to do. Everything that I've done before. Anything I haven't done, hopefully I can achieve, really," he said, referencing his first three NFL seasons. "I feel like I'm in great shape. I think I can just help out there to try to make a play and help put us in a position to win."

And as for pressure, Gordon said there is none.

"I'm just excited," he said. "I'm having the most fun that I have ever had doing this, just playing ball, the love of it. That is the only thing that is giving me any type of — not really pressure — but kind of just boost more than anything."

Of course, the Browns hope Gordon gives them a boost, too.

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