At a time when the Chargers are grasping for offense, they’re about to get Melvin Gordon back.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection will end his holdout and report to the team’s Costa Mesa training facility Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Gordon has been away from the team since minicamp in June because of a contract dispute.
In the final season of his rookie deal, he’s scheduled to be paid $5.6 million in 2019. He is seeking an extension that would put him closer to what the NFL’s highest-paid backs are receiving, something in the $13-million range annually.
The Chargers (1-2) are at Miami (0-3) on Sunday, but Gordon is not expected to play. They face Denver at Dignity Health Sports Park on Oct. 6.
Without Gordon and other valuable offensive pieces, the Chargers have struggled to sustain consistency. They are tied for fifth in the league in yards but are tied for 21st in points.
They have been particularly bad after halftime, scoring 16 points in three games. They haven’t had a second-half touchdown since Austin Ekeler scored against Indianapolis in Week 1.
With Ekeler and Justin Jackson filling in for Gordon, the Chargers have averaged 111.7 yards rushing per game, ranking 13th in the NFL. But they are coming off a 27-20 loss to Houston in which they had only 16 running plays and passed 46 times.
Gordon has spent much of his time away working out in San Diego. He is considered to be one of the hardest workers among the Chargers and isn’t expected to need long to be ready.
“It depends on what you’ve been doing,” coach Anthony Lynn said when asked how much time a typical NFL running back would require to be game-ready. “I don’t think you just walk in camp and just play right away. ... You can run and do all the drills you want, but it’s hard to simulate real football.”
The Chargers never expected Gordon’s holdout to last this long. General manager Tom Telesco has said he anticipated finding a solution before the season began. When that didn’t happen, the Chargers announced they had broken off negotiations with Gordon’s representatives and wouldn’t revisit extension talks until after the season.
The team also granted permission to Gordon’s agent to seek a trade. None of those discussions went far.
After the season started, Chargers front-office executives and coaches turned their attention to the players on the roster and adopted the stance that they’d simply wait for Gordon to show up.
Several of his teammates have been in touch with Gordon, including quarterback Philip Rivers.
“It has been a little while since I talked to him,” Rivers said. “I know it would be good to see him.”
Gordon had been accumulating fines throughout the holdout, the total approaching $1 million. Teams often waive such fines as part of a new contract, though the Chargers have been known to not do so.
Besides Gordon, the Chargers also are playing without left tackle Russell Okung, who remains out indefinitely because of blood clots. Tight end Hunter Henry has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the opener and is expected to sit out several weeks.
Receiver Mike Williams continues to play but has been hobbled by a knee problem. He did not practice Wednesday, the team’s official injury report listing Williams’ ailing body part as his back.
Tight end Virgil Green also sat out practice because of a groin injury suffered Sunday.
Lynn and the Chargers continued preparing for their next game, content with waiting for Gordon to return Thursday.
“Right now,” Lynn said, “my focus is really on getting this team ready to go to Miami and try to win a football game.”
Mike Pouncey’s homecoming
The game Sunday marks a homecoming for center Mike Pouncey, who spent his first seven seasons with the Dolphins. The Florida native was cut by the Dolphins in March 2018 and he signed with the Chargers five days later.
Pouncey said the Dolphins informed him of his release via a text message to his agent.
He said Wednesday he wasn’t going to provide any “bulletin-board material” and declined to speak.
“He’s a professional,” Lynn said. “I have no doubt Pouncey will be able to keep his emotions in check. He has a lot of friends there. He didn’t leave on bad terms, I don’t believe. I’m sure it’ll be exciting for him. It’s home for him.”
Along with Williams and Green not practicing, cornerback Casey Hayward (back), receiver Travis Benjamin (hip) and kicker Michael Badgley (groin) were held out.
The secondary has been without cornerback Michael Davis (hamstring) and safeties Derwin James (foot) and Adrian Phillips (arm).
Davis returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis. He had been out since the season opener.