FOXBORO – It’s a long time since 2013 when Josh Gordon grabbed the NFL by the shirt, pulled it close and said, “I’ve arrived…”
Gordon’s been mostly gone since, playing in just 11 games for the Cleveland Browns before he was traded Monday to the Patriots in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
Is the 2013 Josh Gordon still within the 2018 body of Josh Gordon?
Jason McCourty thinks so. The Patriots defensive back was a teammate of Gordon’s in Cleveland last year.
Here’s what McCourty said for Monday night’s episode of Quick Slants on NBCSports Boston.
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“One of the most talented receivers I’ve played against,” said McCourty. “I remember last year, the first week he was back (after being reinstated by the NFL in November), he couldn’t play in the game (but was allowed to practice). We were playing Cincinnati so he got the honor of being A.J. Green in practice and I was matched up with A.J. that week so I covered (Gordon) in practice."
“I remember sending (Devin McCourty) a few clips saying, ‘This dude can still play.’ If he gets everything on track he can be one of the best receivers in our game.”
I asked if Gordon compared favorably with Green. Jason McCourty raised the bar.
“I would compare him to a guy like Julio Jones,” he said. “Big. Can run. Still has quickness. Definitely that kind of body, that type of mold.”
Obviously, this Julio Jones clone is available because he’s had a hard time getting his off-field life in order. McCourty said he saw a diligent guy in Cleveland in 2017.
“When I was there last year, he was there on time, he was working hard, it really seemed like he wanted to get back in it and do things the right way,” he said. “Hopefully he’ll come in here with the same attitude and same approach coming into our locker room.”
Over the years, Bill Belichick has made a point of saying that, once a player joins the Patriots, what he does as a member of the team is more important than what he did before.
“Guys come in with an equal opportunity on the field but also as a person,” said Devin McCourty. “Guys are welcomed with open arms and guys try to get them acclimated to how we do things and I think it will be no different for Gordon."
“We played against him in ’13,” Devin added. “The guy’s a great talent. A playmaker on the field. I’m excited. Anytime we get a good football player, you want to try to get him on the same page, get him up to speed in the playbook and see how it works out.”