This would play swiftly into the narrative of Gordon as the Cleveland Browns' late-season emotional lift into the playoffs, one the team has tried to quell because of the undue pressure on the receiver.
Given all the factors -- Gordon's otherworldly ability, a new offense, going months without live contact -- what are realistic expectations for the Pro Bowl receiver Sunday in Atlanta?
"We like real good receivers," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said.
Let's look at this from a few angles.
How many targets might he get in this offense? The Browns, to this point, run a balanced offense that loves to run the ball -- Cleveland's 324 rushing attempts through 10 games nearly equals last year's 16-game total of 348.
Had Gordon been playing all year, perhaps that rushing total would be a bit lower. But if the Browns truly want Gordon to blend into the offense without making drastic changes, don't expect Gordon to get 20 targets a game.
As one AFC scout pointed out this week, Gordon's skill set fits into any offense.
"Big and fast -- there's always a package for that,” the scout said.
The Browns like to mix up looks. Sometimes they'll go four-wide in empty sets, sometimes they'll push no huddle, sometimes they'll run traditional running sets. Hoyer is good in play-action, which should suit Gordon well because play-action is designed to create one-on-one matchups.
"I think he's going to help in every way possibly because you put him on the field,” Hoyer said. "You put No. 12 on the field, and the defense is going to have to see where he's at. How they want to play him, that's up to them. That's why it kind of comes in with my job as far as still seeing how the defense is playing. Are they going to try and double-team him? And then other guys are open? You never know. It's just kind of play it by ear and get out there and play the game and see how it plays out.”
Don't expect Browns to force-feed Gordon: The Browns have been adamant, and it seems genuine, that Hoyer should throw the ball where the defense tells him to. If Gordon is double-teamed and Andrew Hawkins is wide open, the ball is going to Hawkins.
A covered Gordon is not the same as a covered Travis Benjamin, of course, so maybe the Browns will take a few shots with defenders near and let Gordon operate. But a steady diet of that would go against the principles of the offense.
Shanahan points out the ball organically finds good players without forcing it. Sometimes not getting the ball means you are doing your job. "I think [Gordon's arrival] makes things easier," Shanahan said. "Sometimes it changes the coverages you see."
The Browns like their receivers to play different positions, so expect Gordon to move around -- slot, outside, whatever.
The ball seems to find freaks.
"Yesterday at practice every time he was out there the ball mysteriously went his way," said Pettine about Gordon. "Like a kid with a new toy at Christmas.”
Gordon might not play 75 snaps, Pettine said. But if Gordon's really in the best shape of his life, as he said, he'll make it hard not to play him 60 snaps or so.