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Transcript - Practice (Sept. 26, 2019)


Thursday, September 26, 2019 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


Opening statement:

"Well, as you guys know, [RB] Melvin [Gordon III] is back today. 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."

On Gordon's motivation to return:

"I think he loves the game. He loves the game and he could not stand watching us play without him. He sat out for business reasons, but at the end of the day, he just loves football."

On the plan for Gordon:

"We'll see what type of shape he's in. We'll work him in slowly. Like I said, he will practice today and we'll go from there."

On Gordon's health:

"He has been cleared, the whole nine [yards]."

On Gordon's mentality:

"That was the biggest concern, but I'm telling you that he's in a good place right now. He just wanted to play football."

On any possible roster exemption for Gordon:

"Yes, we [checked with the league office] on that today."

On Gordon:

"He looks good. He looks really good."

On if the team was granted the roster exemption for Gordon:

"Yes, today."

On if Gordon will travel to Miami:

"You know, I haven't decided yet. We do travel some guys, but a lot of times if a guy is not playing, I'll leave guys at home. I just think if there are more people, more distractions. I think this can be a good distraction. I like this one."

On what he would need to see from Gordon in order to play in a game:

"Just his conditioning, just his agility — to see where he is. 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."

On Gordon returning to the offense:

"We'll use him just like we used him before, no different. The things he did when he scored touchdowns. I believe playmakers put the ball in the end zone. Somehow, someway, he has always been able to do that."

On how he found out Gordon would report to the team:

"He called. We talked last night. We talked for a while. I was excited, but I wasn't going to believe it until he walked through that door. I was excited last night."

On Gordon returning without a contract extension:

"Melvin is a professional. He knows that. All business aside, now it's just time to play football."

On if Gordon would return as the starting running back:

"No doubt. He's our starter. He's a starter for a reason. I like the way that [RB] Austin [Ekeler] and [RB Justin] 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."

On dealing with Gordon's situation as a head coach:

"A situation like this, I hate to see guys hold out. I know it's part of the business. As a coach, you kind of have to stand on the sideline. My job is to build you up and make you feel like you're the best running back in the league. Then, when it's time for you to get paid like you're the best running back in the league, that's the general manager's job. I step back. It's a healthy conflict. It's just the way it is."

On if he advocated for Gordon:

"No, that's not my business. [General Manager] Tom [Telesco] does a heck of a job re-signing players here in the past. Players here, I think they've made out pretty well."

On how Gordon affects the offense:

"His physical running style. I remember times last year where it took four people just to get him down. I remember how those moments just ignited the sideline — just his effort and determination. I think it's not only going to help us on the field, but it's going to help our football team. We got another one of our good players back. That can't do anything but help. Figuring out a way to use him and when he's going to play — that's the easy part."

On if he thought the holdout would go on as long as it did:

"I had no idea, to be honest with you. No, I did not."

On if he considered Gordon may not return:

"Well, you have to think like that as a head coach because if you're not here, I have to have contingency plans to do other things."

On if Gordon will address the team:

"I don't see any reason for that. These guys know him very well. They were all so excited and happy to see him this morning. I don't think he would need to address the team for anything."

On monitoring Gordon's usage in games:

"Yeah, you have to watch that because he hasn't been in ball for a while, he hasn't been at practice in a while, so we've got to just phase him in slowly. Like I said, I'm really pleased with Austin [Ekeler] and Justin [Jackson] and the job they've done. We don't have to rush him in early. We don't have to do that."

On the depth of the running backs:

"It changes tremendously at that position. I thought the depth was good anyway. [RB Troymaine] Pope, he's been our No. 3. He's done an outstanding job on special teams and the backfield, but we were just fortunate enough at that position where we had good depth."

On if Ekeler could play special teams:

"I don't know. We'll see."

On how the players handled Gordon's situation:

"I think the players handled it fine. They knew it was a business decision. They support the organization, but they also supported Melvin. I think the way Melvin has handled it has been outstanding. He just wants to get back to playing football. He's made that clear."

On the culture of the team:

"We have a good locker room. We have some leaders in that locker room, and I think it's because of the leadership that we have on our football team that it wasn't ugly in the locker room."

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