FOXBOROUGH — Josh Gordon was suspended for “multiple violations of the NFL/NFLPA substance abuse policy,” according to a Sunday morning NFL Media report.
Gordon was hit with the ban Thursday when the league announced the oft-suspended receiver was “returned to Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.’’
The report also said “it was more than marijuana” that led to Gordon being suspended.
In addition, ESPN reported the Patriots had people assigned to be with Gordon to prevent the type of temptation that would lead to a violation but that he “somehow eluded New England’s security team during the team’s Nov. 18 bye weekend” when the players were off.
It’s unclear when — or if — Gordon would be allowed to return to the league, but according to the report it is not out of the question he could be back for the 2019 season. Gordon is under contract with the Patriots through next year.
Gordon had 40 catches for a team-high 720 yards in 11 games for New England before being suspended. He was acquired from the Browns in mid-September along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a fifth-round selection.
Hours before being suspended, Gordon tweeted he was “stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health.’’
Several Patriots, including Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, took to social media over the weekend to offer their support for Gordon.
“We wish him the best to get himself right. That’s a tough thing to go through. We’re here to support him, [but] sometimes the train has got to keep going,’’ Edelman said after New England’s 24-12 win over the Bills on Sunday. “As much as you miss him, you’ve got to start thinking about what you’ve got to do to keep going out and win ballgames.
“My love and prayers are all going towards him. I got to spend a little time with him. Thought he was a great guy, thought he was a great teammate, and hope he can get right.’’
Holding up well
After poor efforts against the run in their last three games, the Patriots knew the Bills would try to move the ball on the ground against them.
“Why wouldn’t you?” said cornerback Jason McCourty.
After allowing the Vikings 7.3 yards per carry, then giving up 189 rushing yards to the Dolphins and 158 to the Steelers, the Patriots put in a better effort against Buffalo, allowing the Bills just 72 yards on 18 carries and mostly containing mobile quarterback Josh Allen.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who had been a healthy scratch the past three games, seemed to make a difference.
“It was an exciting day for me,” he said. “Just coming back felt like it was my first game again, so I was excited for it. I’m glad I was able to just do my job and help contribute to the defense, and our defense did a great job.”
Shelton said that “all week was just focusing on stopping the run,” and he was pleased that the defense was able to execute that plan. The Bills don’t have a particularly threatening passing offense, so it’ll be a tougher call for the Patriots on whether they continue to use Shelton against offenses whose passing attacks require more attention.
The Patriots also got a big play against the run from newly activated lineman Ufomba Kamalu. Playing in his first game as a Patriot, the former practice squadder dropped running back LeSean McCoy 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage in the first quarter.
“It felt amazing,” Kamalu said. “Like a release. It’s been a long year, just kind of all coming into one play.”
Kamalu said he’d been expecting to get promoted to the active roster since the Patriots signed him to the practice squad on Nov. 5. The Patriots had been experimenting with him in various spots along the line, but he said he’s mostly settled in at defensive end in their scheme.
Clayborn a scratch
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was a surprising healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Clayborn, who has struggled at times keeping quarterbacks contained in the pocket, has just 2½ sacks but is tied for second on the team with 12 quarterback hits.
Also inactive for the Patriots were defensive ends Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers, safeties Duke Dawson and Obi Melifonwu, special teams ace Brandon King (knee), and offensive lineman James Ferentz.
For the Bills, running back Chris Ivory (shoulder) and tight end Charles Clay headlined an inactive list that also included wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, guard Vladimir Ducasse, quarterback Derek Anderson, cornerback Ryan Lewis (concussion), and safety Dean Marlowe.
McCoy cited “ a situation” with coach Sean McDermott for the reason he did not start the game. Rookie Keith Ford got the call before McCoy replaced him on the second offensive play.
“The coach, we had a situation, and he was totally right,’’ McCoy said. “It’s between me and him. It’s a private situation. He checked me and put me in my place, and that was it.”
McCoy finished with just 9 yards on six carries.
McCourty snagged his first interception as a Patriot with a nice toe-tapping effort in the fourth quarter. “[That] was a great play,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “We all got a good look at that one. He timed his jump well. He made a great play on the ball. He got his feet down. It was a wide receiver type of catch.’’ . . . The win wrapped up the 17th postseason berth of Belichick’s head coaching career. Only Don Shula (19) and Tom Landry (18) have more . . . Brady has 4,105 passing yards on the season, the 10th time he’s topped 4,000, tying him with Philip Rivers for third all time. Peyton Manning (14 seasons) and Drew Brees (12) are 1-2 . . . Cordarrelle Patterson wore green socks adorned with candy canes during warm-ups . . . Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and skiing legend Lindsey Vonn were on the Patriots’ sideline before the game. As usual, Subban avoided physical contact . . . Pat Patriot was dressed in a Rudolph costume, which was a little disarming because Pat Patriot itself is a costume.