"Josh worked hard. He has a long way to go. We'll take it day by day here," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in his pregame interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Gordon made the trip with the team and warmed up lightly on the field before the game. He was limited all week in practice with a hamstring injury and had officially been listed as questionable, giving him 50-50 odds of playing.
Gordon took a selfie with some Patriots fans before departing the field after his warm-up.
The Patriots kept their plans for Gordon concealed, in part because they liked the idea of forcing the Lions -- under first-year coach Matt Patricia, their former defensive coordinator -- to prepare for the possibility of him playing.
With Gordon inactive, the Patriots have Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson atop their receiver depth chart. Special-teams captain Matthew Slater would be a fourth option in an emergency-type situation. That is especially thin, which is part of what led the Patriots to acquire Gordon.
Meanwhile, the Lions are without defensive end Ezekiel Ansah for the second straight game. Ansah injured his shoulder in the first half against the New York Jets in Week 1, and he has not returned. Ansah practiced on a limited basis all three days this week.
Detroit also will be missing Kerry Hyder -- who usually spelled Ansah during some reps -- as what appears to be a healthy scratch, since Hyder wasn't on the injury report. This leaves Detroit with just Romeo Okwara and rookie Da'Shawn Hand as the team's available defensive ends, though linebackers Eli Harold and Devon Kennard can play at the end of the line of scrimmage in a three-point stance.