Brandon Weeden will begin the 2013 season without one his top weapons.
The NFL suspended Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon on Friday for two games without pay and fined him an additional two game checks after Gordon violated the league’s substance-abuse policy.
The 22-year-old supplemental draftee emerged as a rising star during his rookie campaign, leading the Browns in receiving yards (805) and touchdowns (five) while ranking second in catches (50). He was expected to start opposite wideout Greg Little when this season opens in September.
Gordon released a statement Friday afternoon explaining his positive test.
“In February, I was diagnosed with strep throat for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine. Apparently, the medicine I took contained codeine, which is prohibited by the NFL policy,” he said.
“The policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but the NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case. Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, and Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and pre-season, and contributing immediately when I return in week three.”
Gordon has reportedly had problems with marijuana in the past, testing positive twice during his time at Baylor — leading to his dismissal from the school — and once at Utah, where he transferred to but never played a down.
“Obviously we are all disappointed in this news,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a statement.
“In our short time with Josh, he has done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he has exhibited substantial improvement. We believe that he will continue to work diligently through training camp and the preseason. I am confident that others will step up in his absence.”
The Browns acquired wide receiver Davone Bess during draft weekend, and the former Miami Dolphin is expected to see his role increase during Gordon’s absence.
This was the second substance-related incident to hit a Cleveland team on Friday, as Indians closer Chris Perez was charged earlier with misdemeanor possession after having a package containing marijuana, addressed to his dog, delivered to his house.