After missing the last two games due to knee and hip injuries, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon returned to practice on Wednesday. Gordon is just three yards shy of achieving his first 1,000-yard rushing season, but should the Chargers risk playing him in Sunday’s season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs?
What a year for Gordon. As a fan who supported him when others prematurely called him a bust, I am proud. Not only did the 2015 first-round pick bounce back from a bad rookie year, but he became a game-changing player. Ultimately, this team has become Gordon’s team, and that’s what makes his sophomore year so impressive.
After scoring zero touchdowns last year, the 23-year-old has recorded 12 total touchdowns (10 rushing and two receiving) this season, which is tied for sixth-best in the NFL. He’s averaged a solid 3.9 yards per carry behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Gordon was on the verge of getting 1,000 rushing yards, but he suffered an unfortunate injury in Week 14’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, which cost him that opportunity.
Sep 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) is lifted up by tackle King Dunlap (77) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
And by unfortunate I mean it shouldn’t have happened. Quarterback Philip Rivers was strip-sacked early in the game, and Gordon attempted to recover the fumble, which resulted in injury.
Thankfully, MRI results came back negative, but there wasn’t a lot of optimism for his return. After failing to practice, Gordon missed Week 15’s game against the Oakland Raiders and Week 16’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
But here we are with the final week of the season coming up, and Gordon is back on the practice field. He clearly wants to get back on the field and join his teammates, but should the Chargers risk it? They’ve been so unlucky with injuries, and if Gordon gets hurt again, the organization will get crucified.
The Chargers will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, so Sunday’s game is meaningless. But I can promise you that Gordon wants to reach this goal. He’ll want to end his year on a positive note, and that means getting his first career 1000-yard rushing season–and I bet his teammates want that for him, too.
The safe move would be to sit him, and I agree with that to an extent. Gordon worked so hard in the offseason to turn his game around, and he should be rewarded. It may not mean much to us fans, but reaching that milestone could mean something so much more for him.
If Gordon is cleared to play on Sunday, I say the coaches let him finish the job. Again, he’s three yards shy, so hopefully it will just take a carry or two to pass that mark. After he does, hand him the football for the trophy case and shut him down for the remainder of the game.
After all the criticism he received last year, Gordon deserves this.