It’s only natural to fear the worst after watching how Melvin Gordon went down in Sunday’s 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The star running back fell to the turf after sustaining a knee injury early in the third quarter and did not return to action. After the game, Head Coach Anthony Lynn announced that Gordon was undergoing further evaluation and they’d learn more in the coming hours.
That news came on Monday, and the entire team breathed a sigh of relief when they found out the results.
An MRI on Gordon’s right knee confirmed the initial diagnosis of a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain. The team also announced that the running back’s status will be evaluated week-to-week.
“As you all know we got some good news on Melvin Gordon, just an MCL sprain, and we’ll take it week-by-week,” Lynn said. “I was very relieved (when I found out) because I’ve had MCL (sprains) and I know you can recover quickly from those, and Melvin is a fast healer. I was very relieved. When I saw it happen on the field, it looked pretty nasty. I thought he came out on the good end of this one.”
In fact, Lynn added that he is “absolutely” hopeful Gordon will be back by the end of the year.
Until then, the Chargers are comfortable rolling with Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. While it’s hard to replicate what Gordon has done this year, the team is fully confident in what that trio brings to the table.
And it’s easy to see why.
Ekeler has been among the most efficient running backs in the league this year, toting the rock 70 times for 409 yards, averaging an impressive 5.8 yards per carry with one touchdown. He’s also hauled in 32 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns.
While some tweaks will be made with Gordon out, Lynn explained why there won’t be any offensive changes with Ekeler as the lead back.
“Austin was already plugged in at what we are doing right now (with) inside, outside (and) special plays,” he said. “It won’t change at all…. He’s a smaller back, but he’s our pound-for-pound strongest young man on the team. I have no problem bouncing him in between tackles.”
Meanwhile, Jackson saw his most extensive action of the year on Sunday, carrying the rock seven times for 57 yards, averaging an 8.1 yard per carry average. Overall, Lynn was impressed by what the rookie put on tape vs. the Cardinals while noting his fresh legs can provide a boost this late in the year.
“I saw that (he’s) been waiting on the runway, waiting for his opportunity,” he said, “When he got it, I thought he took full advantage of it. He’s not banged up at all. He’s fresh, and that’s what we brought him here for. This time of year, a lot of young backs have to step up and play, and he was ready.”