The last time that wide receiver Josh Gordon opened the regular season on the Cleveland Browns active roster was in his rookie season of 2012.
Gordon had a pedestrian two receptions for 16 yards that day during a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
If everything goes right between now and Sunday, Gordon will be on the field for a Week 1 game for the first time in six years when the Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Gordon won’t be in the starting lineup, for reasons that are apparent to only head coach Hue Jackson, but he should see more than enough action and is ready to roll, as he told clevelandbrowns.com:
“I feel 100 percent today, and I will be 100 percent Sunday. I think the biggest piece of it is making sure I am locked in and know what I am trying to do as an individual, as a player and as a teammate going forward. At the most crucial point of the game, what can I do to help put us over the edge if I am needed? I really just want to get a win.”
A motivated and engaged Gordon - which he has not always been in his numerous previous returns to the team - can help take the Browns offense to a different level. With him on the field on passing downs along with Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and Duke Johnson, it might be all the quarterback Tyrod Taylor can do to control himself while he picks through his numerous enticing options.
It has been a long road back for Gordon, and Sunday’s game is another step on the journey.
And if he can stay locked in, there might be even bigger steps on the horizon.