By Nate Ulrich
The Akron Beacon Journal
Distributed by MCT
Gordon touched on those topics after practice Saturday while addressing the media for the first time since July 22, when he apologized to the organization, his teammates and fans for the two-game suspension he’ll serve at the beginning of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Gordon blamed prescription cough medicine that contained codeine, which the league considers a banned substance, for triggering a failed drug test.
Last year, ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur and former offensive coordinator Brad Childress publicly acknowledged that Gordon, at times, lacked the level of hustle and focus they wanted their players to display during practices. But as Gordon’s rookie season unfolded, he improved in those areas.
Then in June, Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bedard watched Gordon during the team’s mandatory minicamp and was not impressed with his effort.
“There’s no question Josh Gordon is the most talented WR the Browns have and there’s a lot to like there, but I’m not a fan,” Bedard wrote on Twitter. “Maybe I’m spoiled from covering [the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots], but I’m used to seeing all-out hustle and urgency. Gordon lacks that. Loafs a lot. [In my opinion], Gordon won’t reach his full potential until he gets it. [Wide receiver] Greg Little might not be as talented, but he has urgency and fun.”
Bedard also did a radio interview with 92.3 The Fan to discuss his less-than-flattering opinions about Gordon’s work ethic. Gordon said he was not aware of the criticism, but he responded to the perception that he doesn't always put forth maximum effort.
“[As far as] loafing, I mean certain people see different things when they look at me run or look at me move,” Gordon said Saturday. “It might look slow because I’m a little bit larger to play at my position. So it might be a little bit deceptive, hard to look at it. It looks like, compared to everybody else, a little bit shorter strides, shorter movements, but I go out here 100 percent every day I come out here.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon said his coaches are fine with the way he practices.
“They seem pretty happy,” Gordon said. “They make it not just known for me but as for the team as well. We just want a sense of urgency out there for everybody to go out there and feel like we have something to play for and go as hard as we can no matter what.”
Little often stays on the field after practices to work on routes with quarterback Brandon Weeden and some have questioned why Gordon hasn’t followed suit.
Gordon, though, said he has been putting in extra time.
“It’s something I’ve been doing actually,” Gordon said. “[Little and I] actually take some of the same regimens and routines from each other. Different days are different things. We pretty much have some of the same work ethics, but he's doing a great job.”
A second-round pick in last summer's supplemental draft, Gordon believes he has good chemistry with Weeden.
“I think it’s pretty good,” Gordon said. “It’s right where we want it to be. We’re always going to work on it, getting better and it's step by step each week by week, just grow on it. So that’s what we're looking forward to, just the next game and the next game and seeing what we can accomplish.”
Gordon also explained why he hasn't been staying on the field for additional work when practices end.
“The past few days, I’ve just been going inside to the doctor, getting treatment and stuff like that, taking care of my body for my needs,” Gordon said. “And I do other things as well, looking at film and then other times might not be out here, I’ll be inside catching [passes from the] JUGS [machine] or doing different things, stretching and stuff like that.”
Gordon missed one-and-a-half practices during camp as he dealt with patellar tendinitis, but he has been back since Aug. 1 and played Thursday in the preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams. He finished with two catches for 27 yards.
He doesn’t expect to be slowed by the condition.
“It’s something that always happens just playing sports, just running around playing sports a whole lot,” Gordon said. “It’s pretty much from a heavy workload, just moving a lot off the right foot, planting and stuff like that. But really, it's nothing more than just maintenance work, just stretching, taking care of it when I need to, just ice and stuff. Nothing more than what I can handle though.”
He dealt with it last season, too.
“[It was] not really as bad, no, but definitely fought through it,” Gordon said. “So it wasn’t a big deal for me.”
Gordon said it’s not difficult to find motivation to practice, even though he’ll miss the first two regular-season games.
“It’s really not,” he said. “I just go out here and get as many reps as I can, mental reps, and stay in shape, and to me, these are my games. They are pretty much my first games of the season, so I’m taking them as serious as anybody else would. I'm looking at it that way.
“Considering my circumstances ... when my opportunity’s given out there, just go all out, because those first two weeks you’ll be absent. So make something happen when you can do it now and that's what I’m looking forward to doing.”
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