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Excitement growing for Josh Gordon's return


Nobody in the Cleveland Browns locker room came into the building on Monday feeling upbeat about a 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans.

But there was still a sense of optimism in the air.

Browns All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon is set to be reinstated by the NFL after serving his 10-game suspension. Gordon shattered franchise records in 2013, posting 1,646 yards on 87 catches and nine touchdowns.

His impact on the Browns offense could be the jolt the unit is in need of.

"You add an incredible playmaker to our offense," said wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. "I don't see any downsides to that."

"Obviously Josh is a phenomenal player - set records last year with only 14 game, so I think everybody has high expectations for him," said quarterback Brian Hoyer.

The Browns understand it may take some time for Gordon to revert himself back to football shape. As gifted as he is athletically, all players will tell you there is a difference between playing week-in and week-out, as opposed to only running practice routes. Gordon's teammates aren't expecting him to wear his Superman cape and rescue the Browns either.  

"I think the biggest thing I can tell you guys is look, we all know what Josh is capable of, but let's not put all this pressure on him that he's going to be this savior," Hoyer said. "We all have to play better on offense. We have to be more consistent."

"The expectation is, as long as he comes in and works hard – and I know Josh will do that – then everything else will fall into place," said Hawkins.  

With that being said, Gordon did blast right onto the scene last season after serving a two-game suspension. His 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown were instrumental in Cleveland's 31-27 victory against the Minnesota Vikings – which also happened to be Brian Hoyer's first win as the Browns' starter.  

What also makes Gordon's return a big advantage is what it could open up for the rest of the offense. Sending route on deep routes occupies another safety, which could free up lanes for Cleveland's running backs. Or opponents can dare to leave Gordon in one-on-one coverage; but buyers beware.

To accommodate Gordon, roles will definitely be shifted. Rookie Taylor Gabriel, who has been a backbone for the offense in many a game this season, fully understands.

"He's explosive man," said a smiling Gabriel. "The leading receiver in the league last year, so it's going to be different. Hopefully he gets a few double coverages."

Gordon will practice for the first time and address reporters on Wednesday.

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