Melvin Gordon had an economical three-word, two-number response when asked why he returned to the Chargers this week without the lucrative extension the running back sought during his 64-day holdout.
“One and two,” Gordon said Friday, referring to the team’s record after an overtime win over Indianapolis and fourth-quarter losses to Detroit and Houston. “Know what I’m saying?
“You don’t want to get into a big hole. You work the whole offseason to be in a good position to make the playoffs. I had to come back at some point. If I come back and our record is not what you expect, then all the work in the offseason would be for nothing.”
Gordon was happy the Chargers beat the Colts. He was more upset than he thought he’d be when the Chargers scored a total of three second-half points in losses to the Lions and Texans.
“It messed up my mood a bit,” Gordon said. “I was like, ‘I wasn’t feeling this at all.’ These guys are my brothers. To see them sad, slamming their helmets, you kind of feel that.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Gordon, a fifth-year pro out of Wisconsin who racked up 1,375 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns last season, appears to be in great shape and good spirits.
He shared laughs with the running-back group after his second practice Friday and enjoyed the ribbing he took from teammates as he spoke to reporters. Eight minutes into Gordon’s media session, defensive end Melvin Ingram blew a loud air horn, which is used to signal the end of periods on the practice field.
Though Gordon forfeited nearly $1 million of his $5.6-million base salary for missing three regular-season games, he was pleased that the Chargers waived about half of the $1.2 million in fines he accrued during his holdout, even though the team was not obligated to do so.
“You do something against the rules, you have to pay the consequences — I understand that,” Gordon said. “But I think they did what they could to help satisfy me and make me feel better.”
Gordon was also buoyed by the very real possibility of playing Sunday at Miami after Justin Jackson was ruled out because of a calf strain, leaving two other healthy running backs — starter Austin Ekeler and Troymaine Pope — on the active roster.
“He’s been back for a day and a half, so if he plays, we have to be careful,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He looks fine, he’s in good shape, but he hasn’t been practicing football, so he’s not ready to go back in there and carry the load.
“He hasn’t really been hit, he hasn’t made a cut, he hasn’t had to break a tackle. We tried to put him through the gantlet in practice to simulate hitting, but it’s still not real football. Ideally, you don’t want to play the guy this week.”
Gordon said he’ll be ready for anything.
“I’m good, man,” he said. “I didn’t really get to gauge myself [in practice] like I wanted to, but I’ve been grinding. It’s not like I’ve been sitting around and came in overweight. There was no preseason game to get warmed up, but you get in, you get right into the fire.”
Gordon, in the final year of his five-year rookie contract, sought an extension that would pay him at least $13 million a year. The Chargers, who weren’t willing to go much beyond $10 million a year, broke off negotiations after Week 1 and announced they wouldn’t revisit talks until after the season.
So, what does Gordon have to show for his holdout?
“Well, nothing came out of it, so I try not to think about it,” said Gordon, who is in line to become an unrestricted free agent after this season unless the Chargers put a franchise tag on him.
“Obviously, there is no contract, so it’s something I don’t want to speak on. All I can do is come out here and play ball and kind of let my skill … determine my future.”
Gordon still hopes that future is with the Chargers. He said he holds no ill will toward general manager Tom Telesco. In fact, Telesco was one of the first people Gordon spoke to when he reported Thursday.
“I don’t think any bridges were burned,” Gordon said. “Business is business. Football is football. I’d love to be a Charger. They drafted me and changed my life. We have some differences, but we’re good. We have more than enough time to figure this out.”
Receiver Mike Williams (back), tight ends Virgil Green (groin) and Hunter Henry (knee) and kicker Michael Badgley (right groin) have been ruled out for Sunday, so Ty Long will handle punting and kicking duties for the fourth week.
Receiver Travis Benjamin (hip) is doubtful and cornerback Casey Hayward (back) and linebacker Drue Tranquill (ankle) are questionable, but cornerback Michael Davis, who missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, will play.
Lynn said Williams’ injury does not appear related to the herniated disk that sidelined the 2017 first-round pick for the first five games of his rookie year.
“He’s just sore,” Lynn said. “He fell awkwardly on it a couple of times. It’s nothing structural. It’s spasms, that’s the good news.”
Among the players who could be called up from the practice squad Sunday are receivers Andre Patton and Jason Moore, running back Detrez Newsome and tight end Stephen Anderson.