Browns receiver Josh Gordon, reinstated after a 10-game suspension, wants to tear up the league. The Falcons don’t want to be the first team torn up by Gordon.
“I would expect Josh to play a significant role in the game,” Atlanta coach Mike Smith told Cleveland reporters on Wednesday. “He’s a playmaker, and he creates matchup issues for any team they’re going to be going against. I would imagine that we’ll see a lot of him. That’s what we’re anticipating. I think we’re going to get their best players, and he’s obviously one of the best players on the roster in our estimation.”
What about the belief the Browns will ease Gordon back in?
“I haven’t heard that,” Smith said. “I’m not familiar with that statement. We know that he’s eligible to play, and we anticipate and have to prepare for him to go out and take the full workload. I’m sure he’s got fresh legs.”
Smith, whose team is tied for first place in the NFC South despite being 4-6, is concerned about the entire Browns offense.
“[I’ve] been very impressed with the speed of the receivers as a group,” Smith said. “They’ve got to be one of the fastest groups. He brings the element of size and speed. I think [offensive coordinator Kyle] Shanahan, Kyle does a great job in setting up the pass plays by what he does in the run game. It’s something that they’re very good at, and they have been very good at creating explosive plays with the guys that they’ve been playing with. They were, I think, third in the league in plays over 20 yards, and the majority of them are pass plays. They’re usually coming off of some type of play[-action] fakes. He just got another weapon [in Gordon] to throw the ball deep. That’s the thing that when you get that play action and guys are biting on the hard run fakes. They’ve done a very good job of running the football. I’ve been very impressed with the two rookies [Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West]. Then that in turn will set up the play action.”
It could set up the Browns for their seventh victory of the season. But it won’t be easy to head into a dome for the first (and only) time this year against a team that doesn’t lose very often there.