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How Do the Bolts Prepare for Josh Gordon?

The question is a fair one, with the answer possibly determining who wins when the Cleveland Browns come to town:

How do you properly prepare for an elite receiver who hasn't played a single down in three years?

That's the problem the Bolts face on Sunday when Josh Gordon makes his debut.  The wide receiver has not taken the field since Dec. 21, 2014 due to multiple suspensions for substance abuse.

Gordon has made national news of late with his raw, honest account of how he's dealt with overcoming personal demons.   Now, everyone is wondering what he'll look like against the Bolts.

Browns' head coach Hue Jackson made it clear he has high expectations.

"Oh boy, let me tell you, I have big plans for him,'' he said earlier this week. "I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle. He's a very talented player. He needs to get out there and play but we have to see where he is and make sure how much can he handle (and) how much can he do."

Only 26 years old, the 6-3, 225-pound wideout's talent has never been in question. 

Gordon was a first-team All-Pro selection and Pro Bowler in 2013 when he led the entire NFL with 1,646 yards while playing in 14 games.  He also caught 87 passes that year for nine touchdowns.

Still, no one knows exactly what to expect when Gordon takes the field.  All the Bolts can go by is what they've seen out of him in the past.

And it's awfully impressive.

"Last time he played he was All-Pro, so we know he's a heck of a receiver," Head Coach Anthony Lynn acknowledged.  "He' still young, so his skillset probably hasn't diminished much. We have to prepare for him like the rest of these wide receivers we have to go up against. I'm sure they'll find a way to use him and get him involved."

"Extremely talented," said Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley, echoing Lynn.  "Very athletic. Operates in space very well. He can have a 200-yard game, easily. Back then, he was on the rise and really doing well.  (He was) someone across the league they were talking about."

So, the question bears asking – How do the Bolts go about preparing for the talented wideout?

"It's tough," Bradley admitted. "You go back and watch tape. And you don't know from that year to where he is now. We're assuming he's going to come in ready to play. We know the type of player he is and the style of player he is and what he's effective at.  It's hard to go back and show a lot of tape on it. We just have to prepare for everyone like we normally do."

"(The film should hold up) because of that skill set," Lynn added.  "I'm pretty sure he's still close to it. He's one of the better run-after-catch receivers in the National Football League, I know that. So they'll probably try to get him the ball short, and he'll probably try to run long with it. That's what he's good at."

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