Even before he had practiced for the first time with his new team, Josh Gordon had already impressed some Seahawks.
Including the longest-tenured one.
“It’s fun to have him here. I met him two days ago in the weight room,” linebacker K.J. Wright said Thursday.
“The dude is swole.”
Gordon is 6 feet 3 and 225 pounds. He looked very swole on the field Thursday for his first Seahawks practice. He looked similar, in fact, to hulking rookie DK Metcalf, down to the blue hoodie as an undershirt. Gordon’s hood poked over his nameplate down to the top of his new jersey number, 10.
A familiar jersey number for Gordon, the one he had in New England until last week (Jim Zorn’s old one in Seattle, in this case). Veteran, Pro Bowl linebackers already impressed and welcoming Gordon into the locker room. An intention for hot quarterback Russell Wilson to use him right away in games.
All part of the Seahawks’ instant-comfort plan for Gordon. All signs are, and their hope is, he can contribute immediately in their biggest game yet this season. On Monday night, Seattle (7-2) will attempt to do what no team has done yet this season: beat San Francisco.
A win in Santa Clara, California, would put the Seahawks into prime contention for the NFC West championship. A loss will drop Seattle to three games behind the 49ers in the loss column in the division with just six games remaining in the regular season.
Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, the master preacher of “every week is a championship opportunity,” acknowledged this is a big week.
“It’s SUCH a big week,” Carroll deadpanned. “The Harlem Globetrotters are in town.
“Did you guys know that? They’ve got a beautiful team. We showed the guys highlights today. I would NOT want to play them. They are too good.”
Gordon, an All-Pro with Cleveland in 2013, is on his third team in 13 1/2 months. He’s been suspended by the NFL five times and battled substance abuse. He just had the Super Bowl-champion Patriots give up on him last week.
Yet Wright thinks Gordon just found a home inside Seahawks headquarters.
“I’m excited to see how we use him,” Wright said.
“And he’s going to fit in well here.”
Why? What is it about the Seahawks’ locker room, which Carroll says has recaptured a unifying culture over the last year, that may make it work for Gordon in Seattle when it did not for him in Cleveland or New England?
“He’s got a great surrounding cast,” Wright said. “You look around the wide-receiver room, he’s got some great dudes in there, with (Tyler) Lockett, and JB (Jaron Brown). He’s got Russell (Wilson), a great guy to learn from.
“So he’s going to be fine. It’s fun to have him here.”
So how are the Seahawks going to use him?
First, they need to see, on the field instead of a medical examination table, that he’s healthy enough for them to use him fully.
The Patriots had Gordon on injured reserve for a short time last month with a knee injury. Before that, many in the Boston area thought he looked slower while catching 20 passes in six games than he was last season, when he had 40 catches and averaged 18 yards per reception in 11 games for the Patriots. That was before he got suspended again in December. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Gordon in August.
New England took him off IR Oct. 31 then waived him. The Seahawks claimed him off waivers the next day. Carroll said Seattle’s medical staff cleared him at the start of this week to practice.
The coach said Quandre Diggs, the safety acquired two weeks ago in a trade from Detroit, is also cleared to practice fully for the first time since he got to Seattle. He’s missed his first two games with the team because of a hamstring injury he got in early October with the Lions.
Carroll said he expects Gordon, in particular, to quickly get up to Seahawks game speed for Monday night.
“He’s a smart football guy. He’s going to get it. It’s not going to take him long,” Carroll said.
“Just need to see him on the practice field. I’m not going to be able to tell you anything right now,” Carroll said, shrugging. “I just know what they have looked like. But now we are going to make that transition and see what happens.
“My expectations are not so high that we are going to be disappointed if they can’t contribute, and all that. But I am hopeful that they can be a part of it.
“I know Josh has been scrambling, working overtime to get caught up and all that, competing to get that done.
“I can’t wait to get out and see what the guys look like.”
Once he does, expect Seahawks play caller Brian Schottenheimer to send Gordon on deep routes to stretch San Francisco’s attacking defense, which is first in the NFL against the pass. The Seahawks claimed Gordon to see if the 28-year-old still has the deep game that has him averaging more than 17 yards per catch for his career.
Monday night is a prime time for Seattle’s offense to find that out.