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Browns' Josh Gordon 'humbly' returns after health absence

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) Josh Gordon kept his word and "humbly" returned to the Cleveland Browns. All they can do is hope he stays clean.

The former Pro Bowl receiver Saturday ended an extended absence from training camp to deal with his health. He has missed most of the past four seasons because of numerous violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

He posted a statement on Twitter addressed to "Cleveland Browns and NFL family," saying he was ready to be with his teammates.

"I took the time needed to ensure my overall mental and physical health," said Gordon, who thanked the NFL, the players' union, the Browns, the University of Florida and his business manager.

"This has by no means been an easy road and I'm extremely grateful to have all of you in my life," he added.

"As I humbly return to being a member of this team with an opportunity to get back to playing this game I love, I realize in order for me to reach my full potential my primary focus must remain on my sobriety and mental well-being. Let's get to work! Much love, JG."

The 27-year-old Gordon has battled addictions to drugs and alcohol throughout his life. Last year while he was suspended and in rehab, Gordon said he had never played in a game while sober.

Gordon, who has missed 54 of Cleveland's past 64 games, is not facing another suspension but he's limited during the initial stages of his return.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Gordon can participate in meetings and conditioning.

"He cannot practice but may watch," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "No timetable on next steps."

A team spokesman said Gordon was at the team's facility in Berea, Ohio, and took part in meetings and worked out with his teammates Saturday. He is not expected to join them on the field for several days.

The Browns have remained supportive of Gordon, who has played in just 10 games since 2013 when he led the league with 1,646 yards receiving. General manager John Dorsey commended him for his "commitment" to become the "best version of himself."

"We are glad Josh has reached a point where he can return to our organization, be in our building and be around his teammates," Dorsey said. "As he assimilates back to our team, Josh will initially participate in meetings and conditioning and will gradually resume all football activities as deemed appropriate."

With Gordon, the Browns could have one of the league's most talented receiving groups. They signed three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry, drafted Florida speedster Antonio Callaway and are excited about the progress Rashard Higgins has made this season.

Cleveland also has interest in receiver Dez Bryant. The former Dallas star visited the team this week, and the sides remain in discussions about a possible contract.

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Updated August 18, 2018

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