Josh Gordon's return to the field on Sunday after another turbulent offseason was a welcome sight for Browns fans and supporters of his around the league. But Gordon wasn't supposed to see game action so soon.
On Cleveland's first offensive play of its tie with the Steelers, Gordon was on the field lined up to the left as the lone wide receiver of the Browns' 13 personnel grouping. That made Gordon a starter, something Browns coach Hue Jackson wanted to avoid. Jackson had insisted since Gordon's return to training camp that the receiver would not start in Week 1.
The coach told reporters after the game that having Gordon start was "a mistake" and attributed the receiver's on-field presence for Cleveland's first snap to a "miscommunication" with first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
"The personnel group got him out there on the first play," Jackson explained Sunday night, per The Plain Dealer. "I saw it just like you did. Not what I wanted, but we will get through that, too."
Gordon was surprised to be on the field too, saying, "Yeah, when I was told, initially I didn't plan on it. But I just hopped in for one play and came back out, went right back to the game plan."
Cleveland had no desire to not play Gordon. By the end of the game, he played 69 of 89 offensive snaps, or 78 percent, the second most among Browns receivers behind Landry. Gordon tallied just three targets in those 69 snaps and one reception, a highlight-reel 17-yard touchdown snag.
On Monday, Jackson attempted to move away from the issue.
"The game's over with now, so to talk about it, what's it going to do?' Nothing," Jackson told reporters. "So I've dealt with it. We've worked through it. It's done with. We move on."
Chalk this up as another example of growing pains between Jackson and Haley, who are on the same staff for the first time in their careers