ATLANTA — Josh Gordon is not here with the Patriots, but the wide receiver is still on the minds of his teammates.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” wide receiver Matthew Slater said. “We think of him often. We certainly wish he could share this experience with us. We know he’s doing what he needs to do.”

Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December for violating the league’s drug policy. He is currently in rehab in Gainesville, Fla., according to a report by NESN. The TV network also reported Gordon could return to the Patriots after his suspension, and the team is paying for his rehab stay. If the Patriots win the Super Bowl on Sunday, he would receive a ring.

The Patriots acquired Gordon from the Browns in a trade this season. He caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games with the team.

“You’re talking about a guy with those physical gifts who could take over a game on his own,” Slater said. “There aren’t a lot of those guys walking around planet Earth. He was a big part of what we did. He helped us. We wouldn’t be here without his contributions. We’re certainly mindful of that. At the same time, we’re wishing him the best. We want to see him be healthy. We want to see him in a great spot. Ultimately, that’s bigger than the game of football.”

Slater said the Patriots would not be in Super Bowl LIII without Gordon.

“Certainly. I think it would be foolish for any of us to think we’d be here without his contributions this season,” he said.
Gordon has been suspended multiple times by the NFL for violating its drug policy. He has caught 220 passes for 3,826 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career. In 2013, he had 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns for the Browns.

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