FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Josh Gordon arrived at a Patriots’ team facility that was abuzz with excitement about what he could potentially bring to their depleted receiving group.
There was also just as strong a sentiment in the building to keep any lofty expectations in check — at least for now.
Gordon practiced with the Patriots for the first time Wednesday since being traded by the Browns on Monday.
New England worked out a deal with Cleveland for the embattled receiver about 48 hours after the Browns announced their intention to cut ties with him, saying they had “reached a point where we feel it’s best to part ways and move forward.”
It never came to that, with the Patriots offering a fifth-round pick for a freakishly athletic player on the field, who often has been less than dependable off it.
Gordon has been suspended multiple times by the NFL for violations of its drug policies since being drafted by the Browns in 2012. He missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and hasn’t come close to duplicating his All-Pro 2013 season, in which he had 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns.
He’s appeared in only 11 games since then.
It may be why coach Bill Belichick remained coy Wednesday morning when asked about what Gordon could add to New England’s offense, saying that the trade was yet to be finalized.
An hour later Gordon took the practice field wearing the No. 10 jersey once occupied by former Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was traded to San Francisco last season.
Gordon was a limited participant in practice with a hamstring issue and didn’t speak with the media afterward.
But his new teammates said he has been welcomed with open arms. It’s up to him to fit in on a team that demands discipline.
“I think the slogan kind of stands for itself — ‘Do your job’ is kind of the big mantra that’s preached around here. I’m sure he’s had that conversation with coach,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said.
“I think it’s just more about him getting comfortable. … Whatever he needs, whatever questions he has, obviously we’re all here to help him.”
While there’s uncertainty about just how Gordon will fit into New England’s strict culture, it is a gamble the Patriots appear willing to take.
They’ve been trying to plug holes at receiver after starting the season without Julian Edelman (suspended for first four games), Danny Amendola (signed with Miami in free agency) and Brandin Cooks (traded to Los Angeles Rams).
The Patriots have brought in several new faces since the season began, creating a constant jumbling on the depth chart.
Quarterback Tom Brady has compensated by spreading around passes to nearly everyone in the offense. In the season-opening win over Houston, he completed passes to eight different players. Seven different players caught at least one pass in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville.
Adding a big-play threat such as Gordon could bring some better balance.
Still, during a radio interview, Brady said that he hates to “make projections and expectations” about how Gordon can help.
“That’s not fair. I’ve never met Josh, personally — just like I hadn’t met some of the guys who have come in the last couple of weeks. We’ll see how it goes this week,” Brady said.
“Hopefully, he can work hard, put the team first and end up helping us in a role that he can find for himself on the team.”
Notes: Starting DE Trey Flowers and S Patrick Chung both missed practice with concussions. Chung appeared in all 16 regular-season games each of the past two seasons. He hasn’t missed a regular-season game with the Patriots since Week 16 of the 2015 season… RB Sony Michel (knee) and DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (finger) were both full participants in practice.
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