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BEREA, Ohio – Football is a dangerous enough game without playing it in a fog of uncertainty as Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon did Monday night against the Washington Redskins when he dropped two passes.

Gordon's wandering focus is understandable given the state of limbo he's been twisting in as the all-pro receiver after appealing a year-long suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse program.

Gordon told linebacker Karlos Dansby on Thursday about the draining anxiety he's enduring as a player in the third stage of the league's drug program. He's awaiting word on his fate from league appeals officer Harold Henderson after his last arbitration hearing Aug. 4.

Gordon, his teammates and coaches are hopeful he can avoid a lengthy ban.

"Josh is real humble about his situation and I know it's weighing on him heavy," Dansby told USA TODAY Sports. "It's a stressful situation to have that looming over his head like that. Josh is in limbo. He just wants to know what the outcome will be.

"Just let him know and he can move on and be the best he can be."

Dansby let Gordon know his teammates have his back, and expressed some frustration himself.

"It's not fair to him, not fair to us," Dansby said. "We need him."

Gordon, 23, led the league in receiving with 1,646 receiving yards last season despite getting suspended for two games for violating the substance-abuse program.

Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine concurred with Dansby during his post-practice news conference.

"He, like all of us wants to know and wants to get on with it and move forward," Pettine said. "Just kind of being in limbo for so long it can be draining. He made the comment the other day, 'The football field is where he feels most at home.'

"It's important to him."

Pettine challenged Gordon after Monday night's drops. They've since discussed the dropped passes, and in return Pettine was encouraged with Gordon's response this week in practice.

Veteran receiver Nate Burleson considers himself a confidante to Gordon and hopes for a just and compassionate verdict from Henderson.

If Gordon loses that appeal, he will have to wait one year before applying to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement.

"I really hope there is some leniency, especially with the details of his case," Burleson told USA TODAY Sports. "I don't want to see him disappear to the point where he's forced to work out on his own and he's separated from what he's used to.

"But he's got a great support system with the people that he knows, his family, friends and his teammates. We've got his back.

"He's talking optimistically."

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