FOXBORO — Josh Gordon was in the Patriots locker room on Monday. His stall was situated between those of Ben Watson and Maurice Harris, two away from Tom Brady.
The big-bodied receiver was hard to miss, even with dozens of reporters in the room for the first time this summer. He stopped by his spot quickly, entered into the training room, and later came back out to walk toward a meeting. He didn't stop to chat with anyone in those brief moments, but his teammates who lingered a little longer in the room were asked about him.
Phillip Dorsett became close with Gordon during Gordon's time with the Patriots last year. He said he was happy to see him again for the first time in about eight months.
"It's just like when he first got here," Dorsett said. "We just welcomed him back. We love Josh. I love Josh. We're just glad to have him back . . . It's definitely good to see him. It's refreshing."
Dorsett added: "He's a physical specimen. We all know that. What he did last year, he helped out this team a lot. We're definitely hoping he can come back and do the same."
By all accounts, even if Bill Belichick didn't want to say much about Gordon on Monday morning, the recently-reinstated receiver will be welcomed with open arms by his teammates. But his return means the competition in the receiver room probably just got ratcheted up to another level.
This is a time of year when most are fighting for roster spots. And if Gordon, who's currently on the non-football injury list, is eligible to play then the assumption is he'll be on the roster.
That might mean someone else who was on the right side of the bubble before Gordon's reinstatement may not be. But Dorsett explained that people in the room shouldn't be worried about their standing with the team just because Gordon's now roaming the facilities.
"Shouldn't be," he said. "At the end of the day, I know for me, I only worry about what I do when I wake up. All I really worry about is how can I get better today. If I can do that every day then I feel like I'll be in the right place."
Full disclosure, I had Dorsett off of my most recent 53-man roster projection. The receiver group looks crowded with Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers looking like they'll have Week 1 spots secured. If Gordon is in the mix by then, then there may be room for one more. Two feels like a stretch. I included Braxton Berrios on my projection because of the value he brings as a punt-returner and slot option behind Edelman.
But Dorsett is certainly worthy of a place on the team if Belichick is OK with several outside-the-numbers receivers upon whom he feels like he can depend. Given what Dorsett has done in situations like Super Bowl LII and last year's AFC title game, he has his head coach's respect.
"Phil's been a pretty steady player for us," Belichick said Monday. "He's a smart kid . . . He's been able to deploy in a number of critical situations for us over the years . . . Solid player. Great kid. Works hard."
That may be enough to land on the 53-man roster, but Gordon's arrival may change the picture to the point that a valued piece like Dorsett is in the bubble conversation.
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