Chargers’ RB Melvin Gordon ends contract holdout

COSTA MESA, CA (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Chargers received a jolt of good news Thursday. The news came by way of running back Melvin Gordon, who showed up to practice after holding out in a contract dispute.

The fifth-year running back who has turned into a top-notch pass-catcher as well as an excellent rusher in his short tenure with the Chargers, gives the team’s offensive unit an automatic boost, especially in the run department.

In the Chargers’ 27-20 defeat to the Houston Texans, the Chargers gained 73 yards rushing as a team. The loss to Houston was the Chargers’ second straight defeat One game earlier, Los Angeles fell to the Detroit Lions, 13-10. Up until the Texans game, both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, splitting time between each other, have played well in spurts.

In the team’s season opener, Ekeler produced three touchdowns in the Chargers’ 30-24 overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts at Dignity Health Sports Park. Jackson may gone over the 100-yard mark against Detroit had he not had a 60-yard touchdown run nullified because of an holding penalty.

But having Gordon, who rushed for 1,105 yards in 2017 in 16 games and another 885 yards through 12 contests last season, running downhill from the backfield position gives Chargers coach Anthony Lynn a welcomed sigh of relief.

Chargers and Ravens
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III (28) scores on a short touchdown run against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. The Ravens defeated the Chargers by the score of 22-10 at StubHub Center. Photo courtesy of George Laase

“Well, as you guys know, [RB] Melvin [Gordon III] is back today,” Lynn said. “It was good to see him. He’s in a good state of mind. His teammates were excited. I just can’t wait to see him get out there and play the game that he loves so much. He’ll be on the field this week. He will practice. I never say never, but I doubt he will play this weekend. He will practice today and tomorrow, and we will see.”

The Chargers have posted a 1-2 record after three games. Los Angeles play Miami on Sunday, marking the quarter-season point. While Gordon will have hit the practice field for two days (Thursday and Friday), Lynn wasn’t quick to commit that his star running back will be getting touches against the Dolphins.

Before he would allow Gordon to get in on some game action, the two-time Pro Bowler will have to do a heck of a job convincing Lynn and his coaching staff that he is ready to go. Lynn will likely be keeping his eyes open about what Gordon can and cannot do before he makes a final determination on whether or not he plays against Miami.

“Just his conditioning, just his agility — to see where he is,” Lynn said. “Those are things that you miss when you’re not in football. I’m not concerned about the contact. He has played football all of his life. I just want to see where he is stamina-wise.”

And, in case there was any doubt about where Gordon stood as far as getting back into the rotation with the other runners on the team, Lynn made the point clear that there is just one No. 1 guy.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) bounces into the endzone against the Buffalo Bills. The Chargers defeated the Bills 54-24 on Sunday at StubHub Center. Photo by Mark Hammond for News4usonline

“No doubt. He’s our starter. He’s a starter for a reason,” Lynn added. “I like the way that Austin [Ekeler] and JJ [Jackson] have been working. They have done a heck of a job. They have both proven that they can play in this league. They will still have a major role in our offense, don’t get me wrong, but as soon as Melvin is ready, he will go back. He will go back to No. 1.”

Ekeler, the team’s leading rusher thus far this season, sounded excited about having Gordon back in the fold. He said he would what he has always done, and that’s contribute to help the team in any possible way.

“I’ve mentioned this before in past interviews…my role…I start in my role,” Ekeler told reporters. “I never see myself as like a backup or even on the depth chart as a backup. To me, I’m a starter in my role. When Mel was gone, my role was more so offense. Last year, when he was here, I was backing him up and then on special teams. Maybe I’ll be more on special teams now. I don’t know the situation is, but whatever my role is that’s what I’m focusing on.”

As a morale booster, Chargers defensive back and punt returner Desmond King said Gordon’s return was positively embraced.

“It means a lot to us to know that we got our brother back on the team,” King said before Thursday’s practive at the team’s practice facility in Costa Mesa. “It’s good to see him back. It’s good to have him back. I know he’s excited to get started.”

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