NOW, they just have to keep him on the field.

The Patriots got the good news on Friday. Josh Gordon has been reinstated by the NFL. The troubled receiver, as good as there is when he’s actually playing, will be under the watchful eye of the league in his latest (and conditional) reinstatement.

His return could mean a halt to this revolving door of pass catchers the Pats have been looking at to give Tom Brady some weapons after the apparent departure of Rob Gronkowski.

Now they just have to keep Gordon on the field.

His addition could mean plenty – this guy is a special player, working with a special quarterback.

Tom Brady invested plenty in Gordon last season, only to lose him in December to the latest suspension. Now, Gordon is back and let’s see how this plays out in the drive for championship No. 7.

Head coach Bill Belichick issued a statement, saying, “For the past eight months, Josh’s situation has been entirely a league matter. When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team.”

What’s best for Josh and the team would be Gordon playing every game and getting back to what he does best. Remember, this is a former Pro Bowler.

Friday, Brady was asked about the no-name types he’s been throwing to with Gronk gone and Julian Edelman injured.

”I think those guys are working hard,” Brady said. “I think training camp’s an interesting time with a lot of bodies and there’s a lot of guys in and out. Some years, you might have three guys set, or four guys set, and I think this year we haven’t really had that.

“It’s good work for the quarterback, just to make a read and then make a throw, and whether we come up with it or not, at least we’re going to the right place and making a good, decisive play. So, there’s still a lot to be gained with guys moving in and out, and that’s just the way it’s been here.”

Now, there will be Gordon. And then Edelman.

The opener is three weeks from today.

A look around

The Red Sox chopped a game off the hefty wild card deficit with Friday night’s rout of the Orioles, moving back to within 6½ games. However, before Friday night, Fangraphs had the Sox with just a 5.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. They sat sixth in a five-team race, with the A’s the next team up at 25.8. …

The Bruins still have David Backes, who has two years left on his contract – and team president Cam Neely hopes for good things. “This offseason is going to be very important for David,” Neely told NBCSports Boston. “He’s been a captain. He’s an alternate captain here. He’s got a strong voice and he has opinions. Players look up to him in that locker room. He’s respected in that locker room. I know that.” …

Jay-Z has joined the NFL family and we’re not really sure what that means. What we are sure of is that Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job. Sorry, but there is more than a lack of skill working here. “That was a very patriotic thing he did,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich told ESPN. “He cared about his country enough to fix some things that were obvious, that everybody knows about but does nothing about.” …

The Yankees honored new Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera on Saturday and there was old foe Terry Francona on the top step of the Indians dugout applauding Rivera as he rode by in a car. The two saluted each other. Jorge Posada, appearing on tape, said, “You are THE best reliever of all time.” The Yankees presented Rivera with a $250,000 check for his learning center in New Rochelle, N.Y. …

The NHL and its players association are working on plans for a 2021 World Cup of Hockey. The league would shut down during the tourney. …

From @SoxNotes Saturday: “Only 3 American League players are batting .300+ with a .900+ OPS and 25+ HR this season. They’re all RedSox: Xander Bogaerts – .308/.947/27; Rafael Devers – .327/.954/25; J.D. Martinez – .308/.943/28” …

After first baseman Mike Ford pitched the final two innings of a 19-5 loss to the Indians Thursday night, Yankees manager Aaron Boone joined those thinking there should be some kind of mercy rule to help avoid the embarrassment of position players pitching.

“I think there would be a lot of benefit to that,” the Yankee manager said. “There might be something to that, some merit to that, and worth exploring. It’s not fun to have to put in a position player in that situation.” …

The checkered career of DeMarcus Cousins took another negative turn the other day when the talented big man tore his ACL during a workout. He was to have played for the Lakers this season and now won’t play at all. …

YES color man David Cone on Ford pitching two innings Thursday: “He’s gonna have to brush his teeth left-handed tomorrow.” …

You knew this wouldn’t take long: Celtics center Tacko Fall was seen signing taco items at a meet and greet this week. From Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe: “Things Tacko Fall signed during an appearance today: a picture of a taco, an actual taco, a box of Ortega taco shells, a felt taco hat, a taco dinner kit, a Taco Bell box, a tray from Taco Bell, and a bag of tortillas. ‘I don’t know what they’re going to do with it,’ he says.” …

As the golf ball baseballs continue to fly, there were 48 homers in 10 MLB games Thursday. From ESPNStatsInfo: “There were 48 home runs hit on Thursday in 10 games total. That 4.8 HR per game average is the most all-time in a day with at least 10 games played ... 9 different players had a multi-HR game on Thursday, tying July 2, 2002 with the most multi-HR games in a single day all-time. …

The Red Sox will open Fenway Park on Thursday for the resumption of the suspended game against the Royals. Remember, it’s 2-2 entering the 10th inning, meaning the Fenway area will have to be shut down for a game day – for what could take 10 minutes. The Red Sox announced kids get in free, with the accompanying adult asked for a $5 foundation donation. Hot dogs and popcorn will be a dollar. …

Jack Curry of the YES Network reported this week, “Mike Tauchman was a two-sport star (baseball and football) at Fremd HS in Illinois. He once intercepted a pass from (49ers quarterback and former Patriot) Jimmy Garoppolo.” …

Carmelo Anthony, who may or may not have been retired by the NBA teams, is working with the Nets at their informal workouts. “It is unknown if the Nets are one of the teams that Anthony and his representatives have talked to about a potential signing,” reported Sportsnet New York. “The club’s interest level in signing Anthony to a contract is also unknown.” …

The Indians became the latest team to spend an expensive week in New York – with four games against the Yankees, a day off and then three against the Mets. …

Justin Verlander has tied the Astros record with six straight double-figure strikeout efforts. JR Richard did it (1979-80) and Randy Johnson followed (1998). …

If you think it’s just the Red Sox having bullpen troubles, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets, “The number of performance-challenged bullpens has exploded. Only five teams have bullpen ERAs below 4 runs; four bullpens have ERAs in 5 to 6 range; two teams have bullpen ERAs over 6.” …

Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres became the second pair of Yankees with 10 or more homers against one team in a season. The others? Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig both hit 11 homers … against the 1927 Red Sox. …

The Cubs brought Greg Holland in to face the Phillies’ Bryce Harper with the bases loaded and two out the other night. Harper hit a game-winning grand slam – the first lefty swinger taking Holland deep in 262 plate appearances. …

In news you’ve all been waiting for, Mike Tyson says he smokes around $40,000 worth of weed per month on his ranch.

Count Clayton Kershaw and Buster Posey among those NOT in favor of robot umpires for balls and strikes. “Come on,” Kershaw told The Athletic’s Jayson Stark. “Is that really a possibility? They’re not really thinking about that. Are they?” Said Posey: “I would venture to say that more pitches would be called balls that are called strikes now.” …

Zdeno Chara teamed with New Balance to bring shoes to his native Slovenia. “I saw those smiles and how happy those kids were. That made my day,” Chara said. Tweeted column pal Shawn Hutcheon: “Zdeno Chara is a future Hall of Fame hockey player but be assured, he’s already a Hall of Famer at life.” …

Yu Darvish has found some answers in Chicago. In his last four starts, he has 36 strikeouts and zero walks in 24 innings. In his last 11 starts, he has 87 Ks and seven walks. …

Ron Francis, running the new NHL franchise in Seattle, said the name of the team will be unveiled early next year. Please, nothing to do with coffee, OK? …

The Dodgers and Yankees both reached the MLB-high 80-win mark on the same night this past week. It’s the third time that has happened and they met in the World Series in both 1947 and 1953 – according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post. …

Marcus Smart, one of four Celtics on the USA team for the FIBA world championship, is confident his injured calf will be fully healed in time for the tournament. “The calf is feeling amazing,” he said. “And, right now, we’re just taking it slow and making sure I’m a hundred percent and (then) get back out there.” Unlike some big names, Smart has stayed with this team, saying, “That’s not my makeup. I made a commitment to stay with these guys. We’ve worked together, we’ve sweat (together), we’ve hurt together. I’m in it and I’m in it for the long run.” …

Angels manager Brad Ausmus had the following exchange with AP Radio’s Gethin Coolbaugh after Mike Trout finally hit his first Fenway homer: Ausmus: “I told him we’re tied now, home runs at Fenway.” Coolbaugh: “Who’d you hit yours off of, do you remember?” Ausmus: “Uh, yeah — John Wasdin.” Coolbaugh: “That’s going back.” Ausmus: “Yeah. I’m not that young. I think Trouty’s probably went a little farther than mine. Mine went into the net — it was before they had the Green Monster seats.” …

Roberto Luongo, forever remembered in New England for having a dreadful 2011 Final series against the Bruins, will have his number retired by the Florida Panthers – the first jersey retired by the franchise. Luongo, 40, recently retired after 1,044 games played. …

By the way, the Yankees secured their 27th straight winning season with Friday night’s win over the Indians. That’s the second-longest streak of all-time, second only to the Yankees’ 39 straight from 1926 through 1964. …

Congrats to old pal Don Orsillo for leading the No. 1 MLB television broadcast team in a poll by “Awful Announcing.” The NESN team that replaced him finished in 20th place. …

The Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. finished play Friday night five homers and 11 stolen bases shy of joining Alfonso Soriano (2006, 46 HR, 41 SB), Alex Rodriguez (1998, 42 HR, 46 SB), Barry Bonds (1996, 42 HR, 40 SB) and Jose Canseco (1988, 42 HR, 40 SB) in the 40-40 club. …

Our buddies Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic came up with their Celtics roster of the decade: PG Rajon Rondo; SG: Ray Allen; SF Paul Pierce; PF Kevin Garnett; C Al Horford; Bench: Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown. Coach: Doc Rivers. …

We all know how great Ruth and Gehrig were with the Yankees, right? But thanks to column pal Paul Abramowitz of the Portland Press Herald for pointing out that Ruth was thrown out 117 times in 240 stolen base attempts – and Gehrig was just 102 for 202. …

Finally, Shawn Thornton hasn’t been a Bruin in five years, but he’s still a fixture in the local charity scene. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh participated in the ninth Shawn Thornton’s Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament this week. His foundation aids several different causes. “It shows the type of people up here. We keep selling out, it keeps growing, keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s just all about the people that want to help out and give back. I love Florida, but I miss it up here,” Thornton said.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.