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Browns WR Josh Gordon says actions speak louder than words following reinstatement

Josh Gordon received the phone call Monday afternoon and shortly after saw the news percolating toward the surface of the internet. The Browns wide receiver was reinstated on a conditional basis by the NFL and reported for training camp Tuesday.

But trust this is just the beginning of the journey back for Gordon, who was suspended last season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Once one of the league's top receivers, he must prove himself on the field and, perhaps more importantly, in the locker room and in the community as the Browns open practice Friday.

"It definitely can't be done here at a podium, that's for sure," Gordon said Thursday. "Nothing really gets done here but out there on the field I can do everything I came here to do and by my actions. But nothing through what I say can do much."

First-year head coach Hue Jackson and executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown made as much clear, saying there's a set of expectations and standards Gordon will have to follow.

"I know who Josh Gordon is as a football player," Jackson said, "(but) what really captured me is who Josh Gordon is as a person … I felt very good about having a conversation with him and he'll let you know we were very open and honest and there are expectations about how we do things here. Were not going backwards, we're going forwards."

After all, the Browns have created a culture in recent months aimed at getting the most out of the team on and off the field, something that could perhaps help Gordon as he transitions back on to the active roster.

"I think it all starts in the locker room. I think if a player wants to change, you have to create an environment for him to change ," Jackson said.

"We're going to make sure we have the right structure in place for him and then I think it works over in the locker room like I said with our veteran players, the guys that have been here with him before who understand maybe some of the shortcomings that he's had in the past and that we can help manage him through those."

Brown echoed a similar sentiment, saying Gordon is "at his core, a good person."

"He's not as quite as portrayed in the media. He's made a lot of bad decisions. He's accountable for that, but I think (his teammates) know him at his core," he said.

"If he were different, I don't know if they would welcome him back, but there was an openness to it. He's going to have to prove himself, that he can be relied upon as a teammate."

Gordon, who led the league in receiving in 2013, can participate in team activities but is still suspended for the first four games of the season. He'll miss time in training camp, too, as he nurses a quad injury suffered while working out on his own.

In any case, Gordon said he's not dwelling on past accomplishments or laurels. Instead, he said he's focused on what might be able to do this season and in years to come. He's also focused on showing the Browns and their fans he's ready to be accountable.

"I definitely think I'm a different person, if you haven't changed over a period of time it's definitely a bad thing. I think me standing here is a testament to that, and most of you might not see it that way," he said.

"It just comes with the territory with me being who I am, considering my past, but I'm just looking toward the future and hopefully people can see that through what I do here and the community as well."

Jackson added: "I truly believe he wants to make it right as well. You guys kind of know how I go about it, his slate's clean with me. I don't have a lot of history with Josh but his history is preceding him and I think he knows that.

"And I think the only way to deal with a player in that kind of situation is to hit the restart button for him and he has to go do it."

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