CLEVELAND — Browns coach Hue Jackson is prepared to welcome back Josh Gordon with open arms but said the embattled wide receiver will need to clear several obstacles if he's to play for the first time in almost three years.
Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated last week by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, is due to report to the team's facility Tuesday as the first of many steps toward a potential return to the field. Gordon hasn't played in a regular season game since Dec. 21, 2014, after multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy and a public struggle with addiction.
"He's a guy that has an opportunity to move forward in his life. Do we want to have all the other things that come with it? I think hopefully that is behind him, we don't," Jackson said Monday.
"Let's just be honest, we don't want those things, but as we move forward, if he can do the things that we do as football team members and conduct himself the right way in the community and handle those things, Josh Gordon is welcomed back here."
Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving in 2013, can practice as early as Nov. 20 and return to the active roster as early as Nov. 27. Gordon went through a similar ordeal when he was conditionally reinstated two summers ago before entering an inpatient rehabilitation facility in September 2016. He has been suspended without pay since.
Nonetheless, Gordon, 26, is poised to give the winless Browns a much-needed playmaker on offense. During a brief reunion with the team two preseasons ago, Gordon flashed the kind of talent that once made him one of the league's best receivers.
"(He's) a really good player," Jackson said. Very physical, very fast, strong, could catch, run every route that we have in our system and can contribute to our football team."
But Jackson stressed Gordon must continue to prove he can commit himself to the organization over the coming weeks.
"We want guys who want to be good players, guys who want to contribute and be great teammates and guys who want to do great in the community. I think you guys know me, I'm not for any of that shenanigans stuff," he said.
"We are not going to have that. I think Josh knows that. I think if Josh is back here, he is going to conform and do the things that we need him to do to be a contributing member of this football team."
Added Jackson: "We're accepting back into our organization. We're going to give him another opportunity. He has done everything right to get himself into the National Football League."
The Browns hope Gordon continues on that path.