Despite being a rookie, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey has already gained enough experience and insight to know there’s a difference between marking Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Cleveland Browns wideout Josh Gordon.
“Antonio Brown, he’s one of the best, clearly,” Humphrey said before Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “But Josh Gordon is a little bit different. More of a bigger guy, a jump-ball guy, a little shake at the line and things like that. But he’s another elite receiver.”
Elite might seem a bit of stretch for a player who has played in only two games since being reinstated after an NFL-imposed suspension that began after Week 16 of the 2014 season. After all, Gordon is 92 receptions, 1,355 yards and eight touchdowns behind Brown, a five-time Pro Bowl selection this season.
But Gordon, 6 feet 3, 225 pounds, is a unique blend of speed and power. After catching four passes for 85 yards in his 2017 debut against the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 3, he had three receptions for 69 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown with 4:45 left in the first quarter, in a 27-21 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. It was Gordon’s first trip to the end zone since Dec. 15, 2013, a span of 1,456 days.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh called Gordon “a big-play threat, a big, rangy receiver that can go up and make plays on the ball.” But Harbaugh stopped short of declaring that the defense would bracket Gordon as some fans wished the unit would have done against Brown, who gained a season-high 213 yards on 11 receptions Sunday.
“We’ll get the game plan the way we decide to do it based on how we think we can defend with our guys the best,” Harbaugh said. “So I think we can leave that one alone, if that’s all right with you.”
How long Gordon, 26, can avoid being suspended again by the league for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy remains to be seen. But free safety Eric Weddle said he and several teammates are rooting for Gordon.
“It’s pretty amazing, pretty awesome for him to come back and to get his life back,” Weddle said. “We just hope that he continues that because he’s such a great kid. I’ve talked to him a few times over my career and just amazing ability. Hopefully, we keep him in check, obviously, but shoot, what a great story. He’s really made improvements outside of football to get back to where he is. It’s great to see.”
Mornhinweg not worried about Flacco-Maclin connection: One day after wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and quarterback Joe Flacco denied the notion of a lack of chemistry between them, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said he is not worried about Maclin’s lack of production, which includes 12 catches on 29 targets for 108 yards and zero touchdowns in his past four starts.
“That’s a little bit cyclic sometimes,” Mornhinweg said. “Jeremy missed a day of practice last week, those types of things. So there’s never really one thing. It’s usually a combination of things, and so when you’re in that spot, get the hard work in, make sure you get prepared, let’s make sure we have great focus, and good things tend to end up happening through all of that. But it’s not uncommon to see something like that.”
End zone: Devin Hester Sr. played only 12 games with the Ravens last season, but the NFL’s career leader in return touchdowns, who announced his retirement Tuesday, made a lasting impression with special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. “We really enjoyed having Devin Hester with us,” Rosburg said. “He will be a top candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s an explosive player, a game-changer in so many ways. I think he’ll be a first-ballot guy, I really do. I think he’s that significant in his impact to the game. We loved having him here. A wonderful man and a great teammate and a family man. He’s got all of the characteristics that the NFL covets in those kinds of awards.” … In his first game back in Pittsburgh since the Steelers released him Sept. 23, inside linebacker Steven Johnson did not record a tackle on special teams. When asked about the reception he got from some former teammates, Johnson said: “I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got, I just can’t wait to play them again. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.