"For us it's about Josh wanting to make a change, and having the opportunity," Sashi Brown, the Browns' vice president of football operations, said Thursday as the team prepared for training camp to open Friday. "We've got 90 guys on the roster right now and he's one of those young men that has an opportunity. We'll find out very quickly if he's serious about it. We believe that he is.
"We'll hold him accountable. He's going have to hold himself accountable. Frankly, let's be honest, there's nothing we're going to be able to do to force Josh to change. The change is going to be within and we will support him through that."
Coach Hue Jackson said he studied game tape from the 2013 season, when Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards, but that welcoming Gordon back was not only related to his talent.
"I know who Josh Gordon is as a football player," Jackson said. "What really captured me was Josh Gordon as a person."
Gordon, 25, was suspended for the entire 2015 season after multiple violations of the NFL and NFLPA's substance abuse policy. He was reinstated with conditions on Monday, but he will be suspended the first four games of this season. This will be the fourth season in a row that Gordon will serve a suspension.
Gordon flew to Cleveland on Tuesday and met with Brown, Jackson and others. It was the resulting face-to-face discussions that led the Browns to believe Gordon was serious about his return.
"If the message from Josh and the pledge wasn't consistent with what we want to see from him, we would have made a different decision," Brown said. "He wants to make the most of his opportunity. He knows his situation."
Brown said Gordon "at his core" is "a good person." He added the Browns were blunt in making their expectations clear. The league also has requirements Gordon must meet; another failed drug test means another immediate suspension.
"I think that Josh truly understands and believes it's about him," Jackson said. "He has to do this himself. He's a grown man."