It's no secret that 2015 was a difficult year for Melvin Gordon the rookie.
The highly touted running back admits he did not live up to the billing, and no one was more disappointed in his performance than himself. That's why he needs to make the most of a sophomore campaign he believes many are overlooking.
The underdog role is one that Gordon has never played before in his career, but he believes it suits him perfectly for 2016.
"I have something to prove more than ever before, and I like that way right now," he said. "I do feel like an underdog, and I think our whole team feels like an underdog. At the end of the day I've got to strap on my helmet and go work. I've felt more comfortable the past two weeks. I have a better understanding of the playbook."
Working his way back from a knee injury as well, Gordon has increased his workload over the course of the offseason program. Combined with a better understanding of the playbook, the running back has turned heads in recent weeks. He believes he is reacting rather than thinking, and his comfort is evident in his play according to coaches and teammates.
"He definitely finished strong," said Ken Whisenhunt. "He finished on an upbeat. You could see him get more comfortable with the runs we're asking him to do. Part of it is what does he do well? Early in this period, he wasn't doing a whole lot. He was just doing the individual. I think part of it for him was getting it through his mind that he was ready to go. But probably over the past two weeks I've seen some really nice cuts, some explosive runs and hopefully that trend will continue."
Head Coach Mike McCoy agreed with that sentiment.
"Melvin has worked extremely hard this offseason," he said "If you had seen him last Thursday do the conditioning part of the program in the offseason, you would have never known he was injured last year. He has worked extremely hard with (Head Trainer) James (Collins') staff, (and we're) very pleased with where he is at. He is getting more and more comfortable every day. (He's) cutting certain ways, doing certain things and each day he has gotten better. I'm really looking forward to him having an outstanding year this year."
After a difficult year, Gordon admits it would be easy to listen to his distractors. Instead, he focuses on the support of those in the locker room, the front office and the fans who have offered him words of encouragement.
"I have a lot of people doubting me, and they want to see that I am every bit of the player they thought they were getting. I'm out here trying to prove to my teammates most of all that I can play. I have to earn their trust first, and after a whole year with those guys and that tough season, I think it brought us all together. This offseason brought us together too, and we've built camaraderie over the offseason. I don't want to let my teammates down."