The wait has only increased Josh Gordon's appreciation of his current circumstances.
Even as he watched from the sidelines through the first two weeks of training camp, Gordon could be often seen with a smile on his face. Clipboard in hand and eyes locked on whatever was transpiring in front of him, Gordon stayed engaged while he recovered from a quadriceps injury.
The players around him, most notably former college teammate Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, made him feel like a part of a family. The Gordon of a few years ago might not have showed the same exuberance during the preseason, but as he's quick to remind, these are different times.
"Every opportunity you can get out there and show what you can do, hurt or not, I think guys should take it seriously and I definitely take it seriously," Gordon said. "I like to have fun while I'm here."
The fun hit another level Monday, as Gordon was removed from the active/non-football injury list and rejoined the team at practice. It was a relatively light work session for Gordon, but it was a step in the right direction for a player who hasn't seen the field in a real game since the tail end of 2014.
Browns coach Hue Jackson said it was good to simply see Gordon, who was suspended for all of 2015, with his teammates on the field rather than watching them work from the sidelines.
"It was great, it was good to watch him move around, catch the ball, and be involved with his teammates," Jackson said. "He's done a great job and we're just working our plan."
Because of a four-game suspension, Gordon won't be able to rejoin the team until Week 5 against the Patriots. What he's accomplished in recent weeks has left his teammates optimistic he'll be in the right state, both physically and mentally, by the time he's called on to make plays.
"It's a long time coming," veteran wide receiver Andrew Hawkins said. "He's been incredible this training camp and I think everyone is excited to see him back in a Browns uniform and continue his chase to be the best Josh he can be."
Sunday marked Day 12 of Browns Training Camp.
Jackson said Gordon was unlikely to play Thursday against the Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium, so that wait will extend for at least another week for Gordon, who said his injured quadriceps feels as good as it has in a long time.
Gordon's confidence, which blossomed after a 2013 Pro Bowl season in which he amassed 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, hasn't wavered. Physically, Gordon said he's as strong and fast as he's ever been and he remains confident in his abilities, stressing "I know what I can do."
The support system around him has only helped buoy those beliefs.
When practice wrapped up Monday, Gordon trotted toward the sidelines and signed autographs for the fans who attended Cleveland's final, open practice of training camp.
"Every day that I'm back means a lot to me," Gordon said. "I'm glad to be out there with my brothers, put my helmet back on and get back in the swing of things.
"It's something that I really haven't felt in a long time. Once you get that type of feeling, type of vibe and environment being around happy people, it kind of just rubs off you. I've missed it. Being back in it, I love it and I try to take full advantage of it."