Josh Gordon set to be activated by Cleveland Browns next week

As long a road as it's been for Browns receiver Josh Gordon, he still has one more obstacle to go. In his conditional reinstatement to the NFL, Gordon was given clearance to practice last week with the Browns, and by all accounts, he looked great doing it.

The last checkpoint is this week, when, "at the team's discretion," Gordon would either return to active status or remain on the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt List for another week.

A source informed of the team's thinking said the Browns will, in fact, activate Gordon.

That means finally, for the first time since Dec. 21, 2014, after years of suspension for repeated violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, Gordon will return to the field next weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers.

"I felt pretty good," Gordon told reporters on Friday. "I think I knocked that rust off prior to getting back into the building so that was what I was looking forward to do."

Expect the team to try to ease him into the flow, considering how long of a layoff it's been. His business manager Michael Johnson told NFL.com this week that coach Hue Jackson and the coaching staff "seemed impressed," and that Gordon will "be able to take on however big of a role coach Jackson and the staff chooses to place on him."

Gordon has been outspoken recently, most notably in a GQ interview, about his previous years playing under the influence of a variety of substances. He says he is clean now, and as Johnson notes, Gordon is curious about how he'll play. He gained 1,646 yards with nine TDs in 2013 while he wasn't sober.

What now?

"That's the crazy part," Johnson said. "He'll tell you it remains to be seen because even he doesn't know [how he'll play sober]. We've always talked about it, but everyone will be able to see next week. That was just a rarity in Josh's [past] life, being completely sober. So it's a virtual unknown."

In 2016, Jackson decided he was done with Gordon. He admitted this week, "Let's be honest, what this young man dealt with is a disease," which helped Jackson relent. And so, the Browns welcomed him back instead.

Johnson has an idea why.

"Coach Jackson probably just saw the new focus that Josh has while being back in the building, how exciting it is for him," said Johnson, whose company also plans to represent Gordon for his football career. "Josh has enjoyed his time being back and really embraced the new opportunity with the organization. He's done so while attacking every day with a new focus, and whether it's on the practice field, meetings, making sure his body is recovered or properly stretched -- it's all different now. He's probably in the best mental shape he's ever been in."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.