FOXBOROUGH — Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon was in the locker room Monday morning, his first appearance at Gillette Stadium since getting conditionally reinstated by the league on Friday.
Gordon passed through twice during the 45-minute media-access period — first to put a notebook down and later to put on his sneakers. His stall, stationed between Benjamin Watson’s and Maurice Harris’s, was noticeably bare compared to those of his teammates but nevertheless bore a white No. 10 jersey, helmet, pads, and other scattered belongings.
Asked if he had a few minutes to chat, Gordon politely declined.
“I don’t have time today,” he said. “But I’ll be around.”
As a player on the non-football injury list, Gordon did not practice with the team later in the afternoon. Although he was not in uniform — sporting game pants, cleats, and a backwards hat but no pads — he did participate in stretches and warmups.
Teammates expressed their support as the 28-year-old makes his return following an indefinite suspension for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
“It was refreshing to see him,” fellow receiver Phillip Dorsett said. “When you don’t see somebody, one of your brothers, for a long time and you see him, it’s definitely refreshing.”
“We’re all rooting for him and hoping he does well,” added running back Rex Burkhead. “I have briefly been able to say hello to him. He’s a great player, great guy. It’s a pleasure to see him around again.”
Coach Bill Belichick issued a statement shortly after Gordon’s announced reinstatement on Friday: “For the past eight months, Josh’s situation has been entirely a league matter. When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team.’’
When pressed for more information on Monday, Belichick repeatedly referred to his statement — and even cracked a joke about the persistent queries.
Has he met with Gordon?
“I meet with the players every day.”
Is Gordon in good spirits?
“I released a statement on that. I have nothing to add to it.”
Did Gordon come in good shape?
“I think we already covered all of it.”
After a pause, Belichick interrupted the next question to ask with a smile, “Did you get a copy of the statement?”
“I saw it on Twitter,” the reporter responded.
“Sorry, I don’t do ‘MyFace,’ but we’ll be happy to give you a copy of it,” replied Belichick.
So, is there any uncertainty about Gordon’s future with the Patriots?
“I mean, he hasn’t even been on the field yet,” Belichick said. “I think I covered it. There’s nothing more to add.”
He then quipped, “Is there another line of questioning? Or can the witness step down now?”
Gordon cannot return to practice until he comes off the non-football injury list, which can occur at any point before the conclusion of the preseason on Aug. 31. The Patriots will practice Tuesday afternoon, hold a team walkthrough Wednesday, and host the Carolina Panthers for a preseason game Thursday night.
Prior to his suspension last season, Gordon appeared in 11 games and logged 40 catches, 720 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.