Browns suspend WR Gordon for season finale
Updated: December 27, 2014, 9:28 PM ET
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Browns Suspend Josh Gordon
The Cleveland Browns have suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon for an unspecified violation of team rules one day before their season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Browns announced the suspension in a release Saturday. Wide receiver Phil Bates has been promoted from the practice squad to replace Gordon on the active roster. The team later announced that Bates did not even make the trip to Baltimore and would not play on Sunday.
Both Gordon and rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel were absent from the Browns’ walk-through Saturday morning, and the team had trouble locating them, a source close to the team told ESPN’s Pat McManamon.
Gordon also was late getting onto the practice field Friday and emerged from the team’s facility for the outdoor workout wearing teammate Travis Benjamin’s jersey.
The Browns did not mention Manziel in their release, and Manziel made the trip to Baltimore with the team, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Manziel was placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in last week’s loss to Carolina.
Manziel had to be present for either the walk-through or, since he was on injured reserve, treatment for his injured hamstring. When he did not show for either, the team had to search for him. Browns security on Saturday morning visited Manziel’s home in Cleveland to check on the rookie quarterback about his treatment, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Pat McManamon.
Because Manziel was late, he was fined, a source said. Other Browns this season attended walk-throughs while on IR, including Miles Austin, who did not miss one after being declared out for the season with a lacerated kidney.
The suspension marks the end of a disappointing year for Gordon, who already served a 10-game ban earlier this season for repeated drug violations.
By being active for only five games, Gordon fell one game short of the requirement for an accrued season, meaning he will be a restricted free agent — instead of an unrestricted free agent — following the 2015 season.
Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 yards receiving last season despite being suspended for the first two games. Since returning from his league ban this year, Gordon had caught 24 passes for 303 yards. But he also ran the wrong pass routes for former starter Brian Hoyer, who was benched in favor of Manziel. Coach Mike Pettine said Gordon needed to work harder on some plays, and the former Pro Bowler was less accessible to the media.
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesJosh Gordon appeared in only five games this season. He was suspended by the Browns for Sunday’s season finale and missed the first 10 games while serving a league-issued suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
The Browns (7-8) have lost four straight and will start rookie quarterback Connor Shaw against the Ravens (9-6), who are battling for a playoff berth.
When he returned from his suspension earlier this season, the 23-year-old Gordon talked about wanting to make things up to the teammates who stood by him. He caught eight passes for 120 yards on Nov. 23 in his first game back against Atlanta and followed that up with seven catches for 75 yards in a loss at Buffalo.
But Gordon, whose drug suspension this year was for marijuana, has caught just nine passes in the past three games, and he has no touchdowns after scoring nine last season.
After he returned last month, Gordon said he was committed to helping the Browns win.
“I just want to control what I can control, and that’s playing my hardest and working my hardest, 16 weeks next season and these last six games this season, however long I’m in Cleveland,” he said. “That’s just what I want to do.”
But Gordon hasn’t lived up to his promise, and now the Browns may have reached a breaking point with him. They provided support for Gordon during his suspension and were hopeful that he would mature and fulfill his potential.
The Browns considered trading Gordon before the deadline last year but didn’t want to give up on him for anything less than a first-round draft pick.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, ESPN.com Browns reporters Pat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler and The Associated Press contributed to this report.