Melvin Gordon's absence from Chargers offseason workouts shouldn't be mistaken for a lack of engagement.
The Pro Bowl running back frequently surfaced on the team's social media platforms during OTAs, whether it was to retweet a birthday, show support to the running backs room, or poke fun at Justin Jackson's dancing. While training in Florida, Gordon said he worked on parallel paths to keep tabs on teammates from both sides of the ball.
On Tuesday, he returned to the field for day one of mandatory minicamp at Hoag Performance Center. While there's no substitute for being in the building, Gordon's spring texts and tweets were deliberate to prevent what he described as being "out of sight, out of mind."
"You can't just be gone and M.I.A. and then get back here and think you're just going to slowly walk into it," Gordon said. "You got to stay in touch with the guys, man, because we are teammates and we all are close."
While away from Costa Mesa, the 26-year-old worked out with a host of NFL running backs including Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, Alex Collins and former Wisconsin teammate James White. He said the offseason grind hasn't been limited to just one aspect of his all-around game.
"Even the things that I feel I'm good at, I want to be great," Gordon said. "Things I'm average at, I want to be great. That's just who I am. I just want to keep working, keep grinding and just be the best running back out here."
Gordon totaled 1,375 yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns during the 2018 season despite missing four games. While he admitted that he wasn't at full strength to close the regular season and playoffs after suffering a knee injury in Week 12 vs. Arizona, his overall performance was enough to earn his second Pro Bowl appearance.
In Orlando, Gordon said he received valuable career advice from center Mike Pouncey, Steelers center – and Pouncey's twin brother – Maurkice, and Broncos defensive end Von Miller.
"They were just telling me as a professional this is your job, so you shouldn't take months off or things like that," Gordon said. "You should always work out, even if it's three times a week. When they told me that I kind of just kicked it in gear, so kudos to those guys for putting me on."
Pouncey said Gordon reported to minicamp in shape and "had a heck of a first day."
"He's a young star in this league," Pouncey said. "[We're] excited to have him back running around, getting back used to the playbook."
The biggest beneficiaries of Gordon's return are those in his position group. Jackson recalled the selflessness that Gordon displayed to him and fellow second-year back Detrez Newsome during their rookie season.
Jackson said being around a unique player like Gordon can push others to new heights.
"He brings a different type of energy to the room," Jackson said of Gordon. "He's very outgoing and eccentric. He loves to have fun and I think that typifies our [RBs] room, really. That's why it's fun to have him back, and obviously he's been keeping up with us and talking to us and everything."
Now back in sight, Gordon represents the final piece of an offense aiming to finish the week in rhythm before summer vacation. Head Coach Anthony Lynn said he's sure his running back will shake off some of the on-field rust that comes with reacclimating to the team.
Off the field, Gordon said he missed his head coach – and bonding with his teammates.
"It feels good, man, just to be with some of the guys and be around the locker room chatting it up," Gordon said. "Those conversations are the best."
Browse through the top photos as the vets join the rookies for day one of minicamp at Hoag Performance Center.