CLEVELAND — Since making a much-anticipated return, Josh Gordon has flashed the talent that made him one of the NFL's most electric players before a lengthy suspension.
After an almost three-year absence from football, the Browns wide receiver shined in his Los Angeles debut three weeks ago and followed up that performance by catching his first touchdown in almost four years. In Sunday's loss to the Ravens, Baltimore kept Gordon — who finished with five catches for 47 yards — mostly in check as he continues to build chemistry within a struggling offense.
"It's frustrating. It's tough to get that continuous continuity and rhythm going. Coming from behind the 8-ball, we just really have to do whatever is necessary week by week at practice coming into each game week," Gordon said postgame. "Just making sure that we're prepared more than anything. It's rough. It's frustrating. It's tough."
Although Gordon has undoubtedly provided the unit a boost, coach Hue Jackson played down expectations of the former Pro Bowler, who has caught 12 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in three games, as Cleveland searches for its first win of the season.
"I just think when these young men come back like he has, he's very talented, and I think everyone expects him to play at a Pro Bowl level from Day 1 and that he would be the big catalyst to get this team over the top," he said Monday.
"He's a football player on our team. He's very talented. I think he's getting better by the week. He has to continue to adjust and play pro football at this level again. I think he has hit the ground running."
Jackson also praised Gordon's work without the ball in his hands, pointing to two key blocks downfield this past weekend. The first was on Isaiah Crowell's 59-yard run, where Gordon could be found sprinting downfield trying to create space for his teammate. The second was a few plays later on Duke Johnson Jr.'s touchdown run.
"I would challenge anybody to watch the tape. Josh is hustling as well as I have seen any of our receivers hustle," Jackson said. "He's out in front blocking down the field and celebrating. On the touchdown to Duke, he was one of the catalysts for the touchdown. He ran the corner through the back of the end zone so the guy could not come off and make the play."
With two games left, Jackson said Gordon is still coming into form.
"He's still finding some new things in our system and how to do things differently, but I have not seen Josh Gordon have any problem on the field from a competing, hustling, doing what we need him to do standpoint."