KANSAS CITY, Mo.
Andy Reid spent time last week tracking down coaches and players that have worked with Josh Gordon, trying to get their opinion of a wildly talented wide receiver who couldn’t seem to steer clear of off-the-field troubles.
The most important conversation for Reid, though? That was with Gordon himself.
“I’m not going to get into the exacts on that,” Reid said, “but he’s been doing well. The league keeps a close eye on that and they feel very comfortable with how he’s handled the last few months. He feels good about himself.
“I mean, he’s a good kid,” Reid said, “and we all have our issues and he’s working through those things.”
The Chiefs signed Gordon to the practice squad last week, shortly after he was reinstated by the league from his sixth suspension — most of them drug-related. And they added him to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, making it clear that they expect the wide receiver to be a contributor when they play Buffalo on Sunday night.
“He feels like he’s in pretty good shape,” Reid said, “and he wants to get going. He has experience. And I’ve learned over the years the veteran guys, they know how they’re feeling and where they’re at. They know what’s ahead of them. They don’t want to embarrass themselves. He feels good about it. We’ll get this started and see where it goes from there.”
It can take players years to fully absorb Reid’s vast offensive playbook, especially given that it changes from week to week and year to year.
The current incarnation with its run-pass options and gadget plays is particularly overwhelming for new players, and asking Gordon to know all the nuances after just one week is ridiculous.
But the Chiefs figure to have a package of plays that Gordon is able to understand for their AFC title game rematch with Buffalo. And it helps Gordon’s cause that some of the terminology is the same as what he once learned in Cleveland.
“He’s a tremendous guy. You can tell he loves playing football,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “He loves being here. Loves being part of this locker room. And the talent you can just see, how fast he is, how big he is, how good he gets in and out of cuts. We’ll try to speed him up as quickly as possible and utilize his skillset.”
That’s what is taking place on the field. Away from the field, the Chiefs are trying to welcome Gordon into a locker room that is among the most closely knit in the league, and one that will be expected to keep him on the right path.
“He has those Texas ties so we’ve talked about the Astros, going to Baylor, stuff like that,” Mahomes said, “and seeing how humble the guy is, he wants to be here. Wants to be part of this locker room. I’m sure he’ll want to continue that.”
In other news Wednesday, second-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. returned to practice after coming off injured reserve. Gay hurt his toe and landed on the IR list in early September, and the Chiefs now have a 21-day window to activate him.
“We’ll get him out there and see what he can do,” Reid said, without putting any expectations on Gay. “It looks like he’s running around pretty good. We’ll see when we get to the football side of it.”
Also returning to practice were defensive end Frank Clark, who has played just one game because of two hamstring injuries, and Charvarius Ward, who has missed the past couple of weeks with a quadriceps injury.
Clark is also dealing with some off-the-field issues. He pleaded not guilty Monday in Los Angeles to a pair of charges related to the possession of an assault rifle and is due back in court in January. The charges carry a sentence of up to three years in prison, though prosecutors have not determined what sentence they will seek in the case.
“When he’s in the building, he’s good,” Reid said. “I’m sure that’s on his mind. I’m sure. But when he’s here it’s about football, making sure he’s doing his job to the best of his ability. Get healthy right now. That’s kind of the primary thing.”