Allen Park — Josh Gordon’s status with the NFL remains unresolved, but the former Pro Bowl receiver spent the offseason making sure he would be ready in the event the league allows him to play.
“If you train with him, you wouldn’t even know that he’s suspended or anything,” said Lions receiver Brandon Powell, who has worked out with Gordon for the past two years. “He came to work every day, worked as hard as anybody there.”
Gordon and Powell are among the several NFL players who train with former Olympian Tim Montgomery, the one-time world record holder in the 100-meter dash, at NUMA Speed in Gainesville, Fla. The daily sessions with Montgomery focus heavily on form and technique — “he basically taught me how to run the perfect way,” Powell said — but also incorporate sport-specific drills.
In one drill this spring, Gordon ran on a sand volleyball court with two resistance bands attached to his waist. He caught passes as he changed direction in the sand. For another (slightly more intense) workout, Gordon ran a wind-sprint while dragging a 75-pound plate behind him. Then there was a creative stadium workout. Instead of running stairs, Powell and Gordon raced each other up the spiral concourse at a local football stadium.
Other days, they kept the speed work contained to the track. And that’s where Powell was blown away by Gordon.
“It’s like watching a horse run,” Powell said. “He goes from zero to 100. To be so big and run like that, it’s pretty crazy. We run conditioning on the track — 100s, 150s — and he dusts everybody.”
Four days a week in the spring, Powell and Gordon would run through any and all of Montgomery’s workouts. They arrived at 9 a.m. and stayed until 3 p.m. It was field work, track, sand workout, and then lifting. There weren’t many breaks.
“It’s a busy, busy day,” Powell said. “If you had time to do anything after that, you weren’t working out right. It was like you’d get home at 3 and you’d go to sleep for the rest of the day.”
The only off-day was Wednesday, but Powell and Gordon usually stopped by the facility for some work on the jugs machine.
After spending the beginning months of the offseason chasing Gordon on the track, Powell headed back up to Detroit in May for OTAs. He’s attempting to build on a terrific finish to the 2018 season; his first career start came in Week 17 and he finished with six catches for 103 yards.
Gordon, meanwhile, is trying to make a case for a return. He was suspended indefinitely in December for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon watched from afar as the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII. In the ensuing months, he trained aggressively and stayed in top shape, according to Powell.
“He’s a good dude, great to talk to, and he’s a hard worker,” Powell said. “That’s something where people might say he’s gotten in trouble or whatever. But he’s a hard worker. It was great to have somebody like that around to watch and learn from.”
Now, Gordon simply waits. He’s applied for reinstatement, and decision rests in the hands of the league office.
While the Patriots may not be banking on a Gordon return, it certainly would help them. Beyond Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas (who looks likely to miss time in the regular season as he recovers from an Achilles tear), the current group of receivers offers little NFL experience and success.