BEREA, Ohio — Josh Gordon was the subject of constant attention Wednesday at his first Cleveland Browns practice. After every play, a coach wanted to tell Gordon something.
“Just making sure I do everything the right way,” Gordon said.
That could be his mantra since being selected in the second round of the NFL Supplemental Draft a couple of weeks ago.
Because Gordon has to prove a lot to a lot of people. Not just about his football ability but about his personal life. Two failed drug tests for marijuana use led to his dismissal from Baylor, one after he and a friend fell asleep in a car at a Taco Bell drive-thru line.
He transferred to Utah, where he was given another chance, but he could not play in games for one year because of NCAA rules.
Wednesday, he admitted a third failed test while at Utah.
“There was a failed test, but (it’s) definitely something I want to get past,” he said. “I’m coming out here, I have a new experience, a new foundation. . . . And I don’t really plan on looking back in the past anymore. I can only look toward my future.”
Gordon admitted he had to convince the Browns he was worthy of being drafted.
“I had to explain my story to everybody multiple times,” he said. “Convince them. Try to instill as much trust in them as I could, with myself and my character and the way I want them to see me as a changed individual. No thoughts of ever trying to backtrack.”
The Browns took what many in the NFL believe is a giant risk, giving up their second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to take him in the supplemental draft. With predictions about the Browns filled with gloom and doom, that pick could be in the top 40. Gordon understands the risk.
“Seeing as I’m already a guy with a spotty background, it would make no sense for me to try to get back to doing the stuff that I was doing,” he said. “I have no thoughts of ever trying to be that person, or be the bad guy that everybody knows and (expects).
“I don’t want to be that person.”
If answering a question directly and looking people in the eye while answering means anything, Gordon impressed.
Coach Pat Shurmur was clear when he said the Browns “don’t expect that to happen again.”
“When we go through the process of deciding we’re going to draft this player, we have to come to the conclusion that we feel like this is behind him,” Shurmur said. “Now, I will say this, and it may apply to you, me, anybody . . . people have things that happen in their background, some adversity. And I think it’s fair to say if they can overcome that it makes them stronger in some ways.
“So we anticipate this will not be an issue. We’re going to watch it closely. And I think he understands how important it is to be a good teammate and a good pro. So that being said I hope we don’t have to discuss it anymore.”
Gordon impressed on the field, but the first workout seemed more designed to work guys back in. It was more three-quarter speed than full speed.
Shurmur said Gordon caught the ball extremely well but admitted they would have to bring him along in light of a quadriceps strain he suffered the day of his workout before the supplemental draft.
“He’s got a chance to be pretty good,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see how quickly he does it.”
Gordon has size — 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds — and speed. But he goes from not playing in two years to suddenly joining an NFL team that will go full speed in pads in camp, starting Sunday He said he is trying to pick things up as fast as he can but admitted how big a step he is taking.
“At Utah I was just doing scout-team stuff,” he said. “At Baylor we ran the spread — five-wide, four-wide, empty in the backfield. We didn’t really have an extensive playbook so it really couldn’t compare to what an NFL offense was like.”
It will be a challenge, but Gordon left no doubt he appreciates the chance to meet the challenge.
“The fact that there were this many people at such a prestigious organization like this holding their jobs and necks out on the line for a guy like me says a lot about them, about their character,” he said. “I just want to meet them halfway on that agreement.”
Pat McManamon appears courtesy of Fox Sports Ohio