Browns coach Hue Jackson, in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, said he expected Gordon to be back practicing “very soon.”
Gordon returned to the team last weekend after completing a health treatment program that has kept him away from the team since the start of training camp.
Although Gordon has yet to be cleared to practice and already has been ruled out of Thursday’s preseason matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jackson said the goal is to have him ready for the regular season opener — and possibly the final exhibition game versus the Detroit Lions.
“I think that the most important thing for Josh is let’s make sure that he is in great shape and in a great place,” said Jackson. “Keep him where he has been since he has been here, which has been outstanding. Keep moving him forward.
“If there is a chance against Detroit at the end, it would be great. If not, my real goal is can we get him up and running by the time that we play Pittsburgh (in Week 1). I think that is really important.”
The 27-year-old Gordon, currently on the active/non-football injury list, has missed the majority of the last three seasons because of suspensions related to violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Saturday that Gordon remains subject to certain conditions of the league’s substance abuse program before he is cleared to practice.
Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor, acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, told Cleveland.com that he is eager to resume working with Gordon. They had a chance to get familiar with one another during spring workouts.
“He’s definitely excited” to be back,” said Taylor. “He’s ready to get back on the field and we’re ready to see him back out there.”
Gordon had been working out in Gainesville, Fla., with Tim Shankle of Homegrown Worldwide. He spent 90 days last summer and fall in an inpatient rehab facility in Gainesville.
Taken by Cleveland with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Supplemental Draft in 2012, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon had 50 receptions as a rookie before emerging as one of the league’s game-breaking receivers the following season.
Despite missing two games in 2014, Gordon reeled in 87 receptions for an NFL-best 1,646 receiving yards to go along with nine touchdowns.
Multiple suspensions for repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy followed for Gordon, who did not play in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Gordon was cleared to return to the NFL and appeared in five games in December last season, finishing with 18 receptions for 335 yards and a touchdown in five games.