AFC Rumors: Decker, Gordon, DRC, Broncos

At this summer’s outset, the Patriots‘ receiving corps looked like it could feature plenty of depth. Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell were competing for spots for a team whose top receiver is a 32-year-old slot man coming off a season-erasing injury. But the Julian Edelman-fronted group has experienced some turnover, with that aforementioned trio no longer in the picture. New England brought in another veteran, Eric Decker, recently. The Pats would be the 31-year-old receiver’s fourth NFL team, but he’s not a lock to make the 53-man roster, Andy Hart of writes. Decker does not seem comfortable in the Pats’ offense, Hart adds. If Decker cannot make the Patriots, the supporting cast behind Edelman and Chris Hogan won’t be a slew of seasoned wideouts. Underwhelming ex-first-rounder Phillip Dorsett remains in contention, and kick-return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson looks like a roster lock. Special-teamer Matthew Slater and would-be rookies Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron round out one of the more interesting groups of the Tom Brady era.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC, shifting to a more famous wide receiver.

  • Josh Gordon‘s back on the Browns‘ active roster after yet another stint away from the team. The Browns are preparing their mercurial weapon to play in Week 1, but he’ll likely miss Thursday’s preseason finale due to hamstring discomfort, Mary Kay Cabot of tweets. Gordon looks to be in the clear as far as another NFL suspension goes, when it was once thought the league could discipline him for his camp absence because of the extensive substance abuse in the seventh-year receiver’s past. But Cabot reports the Browns are working alongside the NFL and Gordon’s medical team to bring him back to work. She adds (via Twitter) the NFL’s cleared Gordon and it will be up to the Browns to determine his participation going forward.
  • Jon Gruden‘s last Raiders team had a deep cast of 30-somethings. This collection doesn’t bring the notoriety the Tim Brown-, Jerry Rice– and Rich Gannon-led operation did, but Gruden’s assembled a unique crew of veterans this offseason. Now that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie‘s on the team, the Raiders have signed 11 players north of 30 just this year. As for why the 32-year-old cornerback is in Oakland after a lengthy stay in free agency, it appears to be because of injuries. “We have had a number of corners go down, and we need somebody to come in here and make a play,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic (on Twitter). “With his history in this league, he has a lot of clout. … We are hoping we can rejuvenate him. … He can play.”
  • Shamarko Thomas has enjoyed an eventful preseason. The latest notable event involving the veteran safety proved to be a scary sequence. The recently signed Broncos defender spent the night in a Washington D.C.-area hospital for a possible detached retina, Mike Klis of 9News reports (via Twitter). Thomas is now back in Denver, per Klis (on Twitter). The precise damage to Thomas’ eye remains uncertain. This comes two weeks after Thomas became the first player ejected from a game under the NFL’s new helmet rule. The Colts then released him shortly after. He’s battling for a backup job in Denver.
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