Josh Gordon’s tangled ordeal, full of legal twists and turns, has finally been straightened out. He can run a route back to the Browns this season.
Cleveland’s star wide receiver was reinstated into the NFL and had his one-year suspension reduced to 10 games Friday after the league announced changes to its drug policy. The decision ends months of personal torment for the Pro Bowler, who had been banned for repeated drug violations.
Gordon, 23, will be eligible to play in Cleveland’s final six games after the league and NFL Players Association agreed on revisions to the substance abuse program two days after announcing changes on performance-enhancing drugs.
‘‘I'm happy that the NFLPA and NFL worked hard to agree on a new substances of abuse policy,’’ Gordon said in a statement. ‘‘I'm very thankful to my union for fighting for a significant reduction in my suspension. I'm glad I can go to the facility during my suspension. I look forward to going to meetings, working out individually, and learning from my coaches and teammates. I can’t wait until game 11 to get back on the field!’’
Because he has already served two games of the suspension, Gordon will be eligible to play Nov. 23 when the Browns visit Atlanta. Gordon’s 10-game suspension will cost him more than $800,000. He'll be paid more than $300,000 if he plays in those last six games.
Gordon’s complicated saga has hung over the Browns for months. He spent training camp with the team and played in some exhibition games as his case remained in limbo while he and the Browns waited for the league to rule. Gordon didn’t speak to reporters for months, and only recently disclosed in an interview that he was depressed.
Along with Gordon, free agent LaVon Brazill also had his suspension lessened to 10 games.
Gordon was suspended by the league earlier this year for one season for another failed marijuana test. Gordon appealed the ban, his lawyers arguing he tested positive for secondhand smoke. The appeal was denied Aug. 22 by an arbitrator and it appeared Gordon would not be able to play until 2015.
Under the new provisions, Gordon will be allowed to work out and attend team meetings at the Browns’ facility. Before the changes, Gordon was only permitted to meet with his clinician at team’s headquarters.
During his suspension, Gordon has been working for a local car dealership. But his locker remained filled with his personal belongings.
On Tuesday, Gordon pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Raleigh, N.C., allowing him to avoid an additional two-game suspension under the new policies.
The NFL’s new policy on substance abuse includes two additional disciplinary stages for marijuana positives. A first violation will result in referral to the substance abuse program, which has always been the case.
Subsequent violations will result in a two-game fine, a four-game fine, a four-game suspension, a 10-game suspension, and one-year banishment.
In addition, the threshold for a positive marijuana test will be raised from 15 nanograms to 35 nanograms, reflecting recent actions taken by other testing organizations.
Despite being suspended last season for two games — he blamed a prescription codeine cough syrup — Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns. He became the first player in league history to have consecutive 200-yard receiving games.
Jordan banned again
Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan was suspended for the second time this year for a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, and he must sit out the next four games without pay.
As a result of the two violations, Jordan will miss the year’s first six games. He’s undergoing treatment, the Dolphins said.
Jordan was first suspended July 3 after testing positive for a prohibited stimulant. That suspension, originally for four games, was lifted under terms of the league’s new policy on performance-enhancing substances that took effect Wednesday.
As the Dolphins were notified that the suspension was lifted, they were advised of the second suspension, coach Joe Philbin said.
‘‘While we were disappointed to learn of this result, we support Dion for proactively taking steps to voluntarily seek treatment to better himself,’’ Philbin said in a statement. ‘‘We will continue to support and work with him as he takes advantage of all available resources during this time.’’
Jordan, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, will be eligible to rejoin practice and return to the Dolphins’ active roster Oct. 20.
‘‘I am working hard to become a better man and to make better choices in the future,’’ he said in a statement. ‘‘I am especially looking forward to returning to the team.’’
Jordan, who added more than 15 pounds of bulk last offseason in an effort to improve his game, was allowed to participate in training camp and preseason games before his first suspension began. He played in all 16 games as a rookie last year, but was hampered by a shoulder injury and didn’t make the impact the Dolphins had anticipated.
Middle linebacker Koa Misi (ankle) and guard Shelley Smith (knee) were ruled out for Sunday’s game against Kansas City because of a knee injury, while Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is doubtful as he is recovering from hip surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis this week.
Stanton gets call
Arizona coach Bruce Arians said Drew Stanton will start at quarterback in place of Carson Palmer for the second straight week when the Cardinals play the 49ers on Sunday.
Arians said that if Palmer is in good enough condition, he will be the backup quarterback. But Arians said Palmer, out with a nerve problem in his shoulder, still is unable to throw a pass.
‘‘He’s improved dramatically,’’ Arians said, ‘‘but he still can’t throw.’’
Stanton’s numbers weren’t spectacular — 14 for 29 for 167 yards — but he committed no turnovers in Arizona’s 25-14 road win over the Giants last Sunday. It was the first time he had played in a regular-season game in four years.
Stanton knows Arians’s offense well because he was the backup to Andrew Luck in Arians’s season as the interim coach for the Colts.
After this week, Palmer will have some time to heal because the Cardinals have a bye next week.
Rookie Logan Thomas will be the backup if Palmer can’t fill that role.
It’s been a rough week for Arizona, which included the Cardinals placing 15-year veteran John Abraham on injured reserve, perhaps ending his career.
‘‘You feel bad for somebody who it’s probably the end of their line,’’ Arians said.
The 36-year-old outside linebacker sustained a concussion in the season opener against San Diego. He left the team briefly after that, reportedly contemplating retirement, before making an attempt to return this week.
'I think the concussion had a part to do with the depression and everything that went on last week,’’ Arians said. ‘‘He was excited and ready to roll and hoping to get the OK from the doctor, then to get that kind of news was real hard.’’
The extent of the injury became apparent in a concussion test Abraham took Thursday.
‘‘The concussion protocol really did its job coming back finding a couple of problems,’’ Arians said. ‘‘The doctors feel that he should shut it down for at least a year. We’re glad we caught it now and not later.’’
Asked what those problems were, Arians said he wasn’t smart enough to know what ‘‘all those words’’ mean, ‘‘but it’s not good.’’
‘‘That’s an example of the league being proactive and looking after a guy’s interests,’’ Carlson said. ‘‘I appreciate that. There’s been such a shift in recent years in the league, starting at the top and that’s a great thing that they’re looking after his long-term health.’’
Arians said Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander, and recent signee Thomas Keiser will rotate at Abraham’s position.
The Cardinals also re-signed punter Drew Butler because regular punter Dave Zastudil still is nursing a sore groin. Butler punted in both of Arizona’s games but was cut Tuesday.
Butler had a punt blocked in each of his two games with Arizona, but Arians said neither was the fault of the punter. The four punts he did get off averaged 54.5 yards per kick.
Cardinals will also be without running back Jonathan Dwyer who was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list after he was arrested Wednesday and accused of assaulting his wife. Police say he head-butted her, breaking her nose.
Niners in tight spot
San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis did some light running and caught passes from a machine and remains questionable for Sunday’s game in Arizona.
Davis, recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the 49ers’ loss to the Bears, said he would be ready to play if he’s given the green light, despite missing the week of practice.
Backup tight end Vance McDonald, recovering from a knee injury also suffered in the loss, could also return to action. He’s listed as questionable.
‘‘I'm always optimistic in all phases of my life,’’ McDonald said. ‘‘If it were up to me, I'm going. We’re being patient with it.’’
Derek Carrier and Kyle Nelson, who is the team’s long snapper, are the only healthy tight ends available. Carrier, a second-year player, caught his first three career passes during the fourth quarter against the Bears.
Chiefs have hope
Jamaal Charles practiced in a limited capacity Friday for the second straight day, raising hopes that the Chiefs’ All-Pro running back will be available for Miami. Charles sustained an ankle sprain in last week’s loss to Denver.
‘‘He looked a little sore,’’ Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, ‘‘but he did OK. He worked yesterday [Thursday]. He loosened up, kind of went as it went. We'll just see how he does.’’
Charles did not practice Wednesday, and it was feared that the injury could keep him out of the lineup for several weeks. But he told Reid that he wanted to try practicing Thursday, and he wound up splitting time with the first-team offense and the scout team.
He remains listed as questionable. If Charles is limited or unable to play, the bulk of the carries would go to second-year pro Knile Davis, who played well last week. The 5-foot-10-inch, 227-pound Davis ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns against Denver.
Safety Eric Berry (ankle) and wideout/running back De'Anthony Thomas (hamstring) have been ruled out.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined $11,025 for using ‘‘inappropriate language’’ after a play against Chicago last Sunday night. Kaepernick, who has said he will appeal the fine, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he threw an interception in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ 28-20 loss to the Bears. He and Chicago defensive end Lamarr Houston went at it, but Houston acknowledged that Kaepernick didn’t say anything offensive or out of line.
Reid doesn’t believe Berry’s injury is related to the right heel tendinitis that caused him to miss preseason games.
‘‘I think they’re separate deals,’’ Reid said. Thomas had been dealing with a hamstring injury since Sept. 3, but Reid said he did not aggravate it. ‘‘It’s fatigued and so we just backed off and said we'll go from there,’’ he explained. ‘‘He didn’t reinjure, it’s just more precautionary.’’
McClain in doubt
The Cowboys will likely be without middle linebacker and leading tackler Rolando McClain for Sunday’s game at St. Louis. McClain hasn’t practiced since coming out of last week’s game at Tennessee with a groin injury. He was listed as doubtful on the practice report.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on a weekly radio appearance Friday that McClain, who has 22 tackles, wants to play and thinks he might play. But Jones also called the linebacker ‘‘doubtful.’’
When talking to reporters Friday, even McClain sounded unsure of his status.
‘‘I don’t know. I've been able to do what they've asked me to do,’’ McClain said. ‘‘I'm getting better. I'll do whatever they ask me to do.’’
Linebacker Justin Durant will miss his second game in a row with a groin injury.
Receiver Dez Bryant was listed as questionable after limited participation in practice for the second day in a row. He hurt his shoulder against the Titans last week.
Rams have QB call to make
Rams quarterback Shaun Hill (thigh), wideout Tavon Austin (knee), tight end Cory Harkey (knee) were limited in practice and are questionable for the Cowboys. Fisher said it will be a ‘‘game-time decision’’ on Hill or Austin Davis at quarterback . . . Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Eagles after being ‘‘very limited’’ in practice. Jackson is recovering from a sprained left shoulder and didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. He’s been looking forward to facing the Eagles, who cut him in March, and has said he will play if it’s up to him. Also, kicker Kai Forbath is still while dealing with a sore right groin and is questionable . . . Jets cornerback Dee Milliner is dealing with tightness in his quadriceps in addition to a nagging ankle sprain, leaving his status uncertain for Monday night’s game against the Bears. Coach Rex Ryan is ‘‘hopeful’’ his top cornerback will be able to play, but acknowledged his absence at practice ‘‘is not a great sign.’’ Wide receiver Eric Decker sat out practice for the third straight day as he recovers from right hamstring tightness. He could be a game-time decision . . . The Saints ruled out linebacker David Hawthorne for Sunday’s game against the Vikings because of an ankle injury. . . Lions cornerback Cassius Vaughn will miss Sunday’s game against Green Bay with an ankle injury, another setback for the team’s banged-up secondary. The Lions have already lost cornerbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson to season-ending injuries, and safety James Ihedigbo hasn’t played yet; he’s doubtful for Sunday with a neck problem. Safety Don Carey, who hasn’t played yet because of a hamstring injury, is probable . . . Tennessee cornerback Jason McCourty is questionable for the Titans’ game Sunday at Cincinnati after being able to take part in individual drills during the open part of practice Friday. McCourty still was limited as he recovers from a groin injury that kept him out of the second half of last week’s 26-10 loss to Dallas . . . Panthers coach Ron Rivera says running back DeAngelo Williams (hamstring) and fullback Mike Tolbert (sternum) practiced and are expected to start Sunday night against the Steelers. The coach wassn’t so sure about starting wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring), who didn’t practice Friday and is questionable along with fellow wide receiver Jason Avant (thigh).
Wilkerson docked $20k
Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was fined $20,000 by the NFL for unnecessary roughness — throwing punches — in a fight that resulted in him being ejected against the Packers. Wilkerson was tossed when he got into it with Packers players in the third quarter of Green Bay’s 31-24 victory last Sunday. Wilkerson was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct, as was teammate Sheldon Richardson.
The penalty on Richardson was declined, but the defensive lineman was fined $8,268 for unnecessary roughness: grabbing an opponent’s facemask after the play.
Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was also docked $8,268 for unnecessary roughness after he ripped off Richardson’s helmet during the shoving match.
St. Louis linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar was fined $16,537 for a hit on Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown, and Giants linebacker Jameel McClain was docked $8,268 for a late hit on Arizona’s Stanton.