FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick declined to discuss wide receiver Josh Gordon during his Monday morning news conference, pointing multiple times to the statement he released last week.
His players had no such qualms.
Speaking before practice Monday afternoon, several New England Patriots veterans expressed their excitement over Gordon’s return from suspension.
“I’ve briefly been able to say hello to him,” running back Rex Burkhead said. “He’s a great player, great guy, and it’s a pleasure to see him around again. … He’s a great addition for our team. Whatever the coaches ask for him, I’m sure he’ll be ready to do.”
The NFL conditionally reinstated Gordon last Friday, allowing him to rejoin the team Sunday following the Patriots’ return from their preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Gordon was present in the locker room Monday — occupying a stall adjacent to the one he resided in last season, two down from quarterback Tom Brady — but is not eligible to practice until he is removed from the non-football injury list.
“We love Josh,” fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett said. “I love Josh. I’m just glad to have him back. … It’s definitely good to see him. It’s refreshing.”
Before being indefinitely suspended last December for violating the terms of his previous reinstatement, Gordon was a valuable offensive weapon for the Patriots. In 11 games for New England, he caught 40 passes on 69 targets for 720 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a team-high 18.0 yards per catch and serving as the team’s top downfield threat.
“He’s a physical specimen,” Dorsett said. “We all know that. Even from what he did last year — he helped this team out a lot. And we’re definitely hoping he can come back and do the same.”
It remains to be seen when Gordon will make his return to game action. The terms of his reinstatement prevent him from playing in Thursday’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, meaning the earliest he could debut would be in New England’s preseason finale against the New York Giants next Thursday.
Regardless, the Patriots are happy to have him back in the building.
“Josh is a great teammate,” center David Andrews said, “and we are glad to have him back.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images