One of the New England Patriots’ most established and respected players on Saturday offered his thoughts on Josh Gordon’s impending return to the team.
Speaking after Saturday’s 22-17 preseason win over the Tennessee Titans, special teams captain Matthew Slater said he and his teammates were thrilled to hear Gordon had been conditionally reinstated following an indefinite suspension.
Gordon — a 6-foot-3, 225-pound wide receiver who caught 40 passes in 11 games for New England last season — undoubtedly will improve the Patriots’ offensive arsenal, but Slater said the team’s primary focus will be ensuring he stays on the right track off the field.
“We are excited,” Slater told reporters, via NBC Sports Boston. “I’ll say this: Football is No. 2. We want to see him first and foremost doing well as an individual, doing well as a man, and we want to support him however we can. We’re just going to take this one day at a time, which is all any of us can do. And we’ll see what tomorrow brings and then we’ll let the day after that worry about it when it comes around.”
Gordon will be met with “a lot of hugs” when he returns to the Patriots’ facility, Slater said. He’ll be permitted to rejoin the team Sunday but barred from playing in Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium.
“A lot of smiles,” Slater said, via MassLive.com. “It will definitely be good to see him.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed Gordon’s return in a brief statement Saturday afternoon.
“For the past eight months, Josh’s situation has been entirely a league matter,” Belichick said. “When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team.”
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