FOXBORO, Mass. — Twelve months after being traded from the Cleveland Browns and four weeks after having his NFL suspension lifted, Josh Gordon is thoroughly enjoying life as a New England Patriot.
“It feels like I’m back home,” the veteran wide receiver, who passed the one-year and one-month anniversaries of those milestones earlier this week, said Thursday. “It’s a home environment — a family environment.
“I love these guys. They (rallied) around me to support me and show me love, and I appreciate that each and every day that I’m here. It’s just easy to come in and do what I have to do.”
Having joined the Patriots three games into the 2018 season, Gordon said he now feels much more comfortable in New England’s offense. Offseason throwing sessions with quarterback Tom Brady and continued studying of the playbook during his suspension helped the wideout hit the ground running when the NFL reinstated him Aug. 16.
“Last year was kind of on the fly,” Gordon said. “I got traded (two weeks) into the season. I had to pick it up as I was going along. And with the injury at the same time, it was a lot to take on. This year, I have more familiarity with it. I got extra time in the offseason to study what I already knew, and then when I got in here, I was able to kind of pick up where I left off — and even better, I would say. So it’s pretty smooth right now.”
Gordon caught three passes on four targets for 73 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in his first game back from suspension, but Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard successfully limited him in Week 2, holding him to two catches on five targets for 19 yards in a 43-0 Patriots rout.
“Josh has worked hard, and he’s made progress,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “I think he still has a long way to go. We have 14 regular-season games left, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Next up for Gordon and the Patriots is a matchup with the AFC East rival New York Jets this Sunday at Gillette Stadium. And Jets coach Adam Gase is fully aware of Gordon’s potential.
Gordon enjoyed one of his most productive games of 2018 against a Gase-coached Dolphins squad, catching five passes for 96 yards in Week 14.
“He looks as good as he’s ever looked,” Gase said in a conference call with New England reporters. “I mean, he looks big to me, in a good way. He looks like he’s in really good shape, and he’s one of those guys, man. You do everything you can to just try to contain him. It’s extremely hard, especially with the crew that (the Patriots) have.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images