BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Josh Gordon hasn’t reported to Cleveland Browns training camp, but his presence is being felt on the field.
Fellow wide receiver Rashard Higgins is wearing Gordon’s gear under his uniform at each practice.
“That’s my locker buddy, and I’m wearing his shirts every day,” Higgins said Saturday. “That’s why I feel like I’ve got superpowers when I come out here.”
Gordon remains away from the team as part of his treatment for drug and alcohol addictions. An NFL spokesman said the former Pro Bowl wideout has not been suspended.
Browns general manager John Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson remain confident that Gordon will return at some point, but no timetable has been set. Cleveland opens its preseason Thursday at the New York Giants.
“It will be like Josh never was gone when he comes back,” said Higgins, a third-year pro. “That’s how we’re going to treat things. I feel like the team is a good supporting cast for him, just him knowing that we’re here for him and we’ve got his back, no matter what.”
The 27-year-old Gordon has played in only 10 games since leading the NFL with a franchise-record 1,646 yards receiving in 2013. He is in Stage 3 of the league’s substance-abuse program and faces another indefinite ban for any violation.
Higgins exchanged texts with his friend one day earlier, saying he is “in good spirits.” They have not discussed football in a conversation since Gordon was placed on the reserve/did not report list on July 23.
“We know Josh is handling his business off the field, and when he comes back, he’ll be ready to go,” Higgins said. “We don’t talk about anything on the field. We just talk about: ‘Hey, what’s up bro? How ya’ doin’?’ Just family, little things like that.”
Gordon resumed posting workout videos on social media Thursday from the University of Florida, but he has not made any statements since camp began. He has missed 43 of the Browns’ last 48 games because of suspensions.
Last season, Gordon was reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell following a three-month stay in a rehabilitation facility. He played in the final five games — catching 18 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown — after revealing that he had not previously appeared in an NFL game while sober.
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