COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Melvin Gordon of the Chargers is quietly stating his case that there is more than one elite all-purpose running back in Los Angeles.
Even though the Rams’ Todd Gurley has commanded most of the attention when it comes to discussing the league’s top running backs, Gordon is showing that he should be in that conversation as well.
Going into Sunday’s game against Arizona, the fourth-year back has six straight games where he has had 120 yards or more from scrimmage. He is averaging 132.1 yards from scrimmage per game, which is second to Gurley. He is also averaging 6.4 yards per touch, which is fourth, while Gurley is averaging 5.9 yards, which is tied for sixth.
Gordon has 42 receptions and is on track to surpass last year’s career high of 58. The increased receptions are fine with Gordon as long as he gets the ball.
“Coach (Anthony) Lynn especially told me this year, ‘Don’t really focus on the carries. Let’s just worry about the touches.’ He made that big this year,” Gordon said. “I knew when I heard that, it’s just an opportunity for me — whether it’s catching or running (the ball). As long as I’m getting the opportunity, I can take that.”
When Gordon has caught the ball out of the backfield, he has made the most of it. He is the only back in the league that has more than 40 receptions and 100 rushing attempts to average over 10.5 (10.7) yards per catch. He is also tied for second in the league with four catches of 25 or more yards.
The receptions have also taken less of a toll on Gordon’s body instead of running between the tackles 20-25 times a game.
“It can definitely help keep a back fresh, but their touches are just like carries to him. Check-downs, swing passes, those are just extended runs. We’re doing a good job of finding him in those situations,” Lynn said.
Gordon missed the Week 7 game against Tennessee because of a hamstring injury, but says he feels good for this point of the season.
“I’m just trying to lift heavy on the legs still and trying to get my extra conditioning in when I can,” he said. “I’m banged up like everybody else. I have little nicks here and there. I’ll probably be good on Saturday. I’ll probably be back to where I need to be and then, obviously, the next day you’re back at war.”
When Gordon has carried the ball, he’s still been one of the tougher backs to take down. According to SportRadar, Gordon is fourth in rushing yards after contact (399) and second in broken tackles with 27.
Gordon could have a prime opportunity for his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season on Sunday. Arizona (2-8) comes into the game with the fourth-worst run defense in the league,
Cardinals coach Steve Wilks faced Gurley in Week 2 and said that both Gordon and Gurley are similar backs.
“I say similar because they both are what I consider very potent receivers out of the backfield,” Wilks said. “You know they can move them around well out of space as well as making you miss and have the capability to take it all the way.”
Wilks said Gordon does take less hits when catching more than compared to running the ball.
“Yeah, you take the run between the tackles, and you’re still going to get hits. Last week he didn’t get hits because he ran for 50, 60 yards, whatever it was. It takes less off your body, the pounding between the tackles, yes, it does in that way.”
Notes: DT Corey Liguet was placed on injured reserve as he underwent surgery for his quad tendon. The surgery was performed by Dr. Jonathan Glashow in New York, and the estimated recovery time is approximately 6 to 9 months. To fill Liguet’s roster spot, the Chargers claimed DT T.Y. McGill off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. McGill was with the Chargers the first four games this season. . DE Joey Bosa was listed as a full participant in practice for the first time this season. He played in his first game last Sunday against Denver after missing the first nine games because of a bone bruise to his left foot.
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