Josh Gordon reinstatement provides rare talent to Patriots receiving corps in need

Josh Gordon reinstatement provides rare talent to Patriots receiving corps in need

The NFL's silence has been broken. Josh Gordon has been reinstated.

The oft-suspended receiver is eligible to return to the Patriots on Sunday, attend meetings and engage in conditioning work and individual workouts. He'll also be allowed to take part in practice, "subject to appropriate progress on clinical care and other arrangements," according to a statement released by the NFL. 

"We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally," Roger Goodell's statement read. "Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him."

There will be time to engage in the discussion as to whether or not it was right for Gordon to be reinstated, how the NFL went about acquiring the information it needed to make its decision, and how the Patriots will try to provide Gordon with the resources he needs as he makes his way back. 

For now, we'll keep the discussion focused on the football aspect of Gordon's return and what it means to the team that signed his $2.025 million restricted free agent tender in April.

A return from his once-indefinite suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy means Gordon will provide the Patriots with an infusion of top-tier athletic talent to a receiver room that could use it. 

Consider what Tom Brady said on Thursday, about 24 hours prior to Gordon's reinstatement, when he explained that the wideout position was more unsettled than it has been in previous years. Now, with Gordon, "settled" might not be apt. But "better" sure is. 

For 11 games in 2018, Gordon helped buoy a start-and-stop Patriots passing game. He led the NFL in yards per reception (18.0) among all receivers who've played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps. The Patriots also averaged more than two points per game and more than 60 yards passing per game with Gordon in the lineup.

Brady has to be pleased to have another physical presence on the outside -- someone with whom he has game experience -- to pair with rookie N'Keal Harry and old reliable Julian Edelman. The quarterback averaged more than a full yard per pass attempt when Gordon was in uniform last season, and his passer rating was seven points better. 

Now, in a season in which the Patriots will be without their top contested-catch threat Rob Gronkowski -- for now, at least -- they're getting back their second-best contested-catch threat in Gordon. Harry provides a similar skillset and the two tested as remarkably similar athletes ahead of their respective drafts. Undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers has been a contested-catch standout in his own right throughout training camp, and according to Pro Football Focus, he made as many such catches last season for NC State as Harry did at Arizona State. 

Now, if Brady gets into a tight spot where the coverage is good and pressure is creeping into the backfield, he'll have one more option to chuck it. Gordon may be his best option right now as far as that goes, and in a league where the coverage is as good as it's ever been, that has value. 

"I'd say the coverage in this league is tight, regardless of the type of player or receiver that you are," director of player personnel Nick Caserio said after drafting Harry. "The coverage is tight. You're going to have to make some plays in some tight quarters. Receivers have to do it. Tight ends have to do it. I mean, James White, I know he plays running back, but he's involved in the passing game, [he has to do it]. 

"The windows are smaller, the catches are going to be more contested. If a player has the ability to do that, that's maybe one of his strengths. It was one of Rob [Gronkowski]'s strengths. He can make contested catches. Everybody has something that they do well . . . They have to maximize the attributes that they have."

Physicality. Beating defensive backs to the catch point. Creating yards after the catch. Those are Gordon's attributes. And as long as he's available, you can bet the Patriots will figure out ways to maximize them. 

Gordon is a rare talent, and talent is something the Patriots receiver room has needed this summer.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson have hilarious Twitter exchange about calves

Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson have hilarious Twitter exchange about calves

Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson are both legends in their respective sports. And on Twitter, the duo recently shared a moment. Of all the things that the moment could've been about, it was calves that brought them together.

On Wednesday, Brady was declared limited at New England Patriots practice with a calf injury. Mickelson, who may have some of the strongest calves of any athlete in any sport, jokingly tweeted he was on standby to fly to Boston, implying that he would help Brady with his calf issue.

Brady responded on Thursday and seemed excited about the possibility of strengthening his calves with Mickelson.

Brady is just kidding and paying homage to Mickelson, but the idea of Brady having "jacked calves" is intriguing. The 42-year-old is always looking for ways to lengthen his career. Perhaps if he could strengthen his calves as Mickelson has, he would be able to better withstand injury and generate power from his lower body as he continues to age more gracefully than any other quarterback in NFL history.

That said, Brady may not need to worry much about his calf this week. He looked to be in good repair at Thursday's practice, so it's possible that the limited designation on Wednesday was just a minor malady that needed some extra rest.

This certainly is a win-win for Patriots fans, as Brady was able to provide fans with a comical moment on social media and looks healthy enough to play on Thursday. Brady will look to lead the Patriots to a 3-0 start on Sunday when they square off against the New York Jets.

Fantasy Football Beat: Can Bill Belichick eliminate Le'Veon Bell?>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Tom Brady (calf) looks good to go after popping up on Patriots injury report

Tom Brady (calf) looks good to go after popping up on Patriots injury report

FOXBORO — Because it’s Tom Brady, any time his name shows up on the injury report it’s worth taking notice. But from what reporters saw at Thursday's Patriots practice, it appears as though there’s not much to worry about when it comes to Brady’s latest ailment. 

Brady was listed as a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice due to a calf injury, but he seemed to be moving without issue at the start of Thursday’s workout. 

Going through the team’s usual stretching routine, Brady moved without a noticeable limp. He also took part in the high-knee portion of the warmup by aggressively churning his legs, not favoring one or the other. Brady jogged at a good pace during the warmup and after the warmup while heading toward one end of the practice field for the next practice period. That was when media availability at the session ended. 

Brady's lower-body health is critical to the success of the Patriots offense. He’s not a threat to run for significant yardage, but his mobility inside the pocket allows the Patriots to avoid negative plays and create scramble-drill opportunities that can lead to big gains. Against the Jets and their blitz-happy coordinator Gregg Williams, it’ll be important for Brady to be able to climb the picket to escape edge pressure or side-step pressure coming from the interior of the Patriots offensive line. 

As the Patriots deal with shuffled personnel on the offensive line — Isaiah Wynn is on injured reserve and Marcus Cannon is dealing with a shoulder injury — Brady may be forced to get himself out of trouble more than he might if he had his full starting offensive line to play behind. 

What reporters saw from Brady on Thursday was brief. But it was encouraging for the Patriots that after being limited 24 hours earlier, the 42-year-old quarterback looked like himself. (The Patriots will release an injury report later on Thursday. Brady would be considered limited again if he took anything less than what’s typically considered a full workload for him.)

The Patriots were without fullback James Develin and outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun at the start of practice. Both missed Wednesday’s workout. Develin is dealing with a neck issue while Calhoun had a non-injury related issue that held him out of the team’s first practice this week. 

Fantasy Football Beat: Can Bill Belichick eliminate Le'Veon Bell?>>>

Never miss a story - Download the MyTeams App | Sign Up for our newsletter