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Melvin Gordon could see bigger role in passing game

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When Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry went down with an ACL tear a hole in the offense was created.

Utilizing running back Melvin Gordon more in the passing game is one option for offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to plug the gap.

"We can do some different things because Melvin has become such a good receiver out of the backfield," Whisenhunt said, via ESPN's Eric D. Williams. "And that's not something that you saw from him in college. Not that he couldn't do it; they just didn't throw him the ball. He was too busy running for 8 million yards or whatever it was he was running for.

"So, yes, that's been a real bonus that we've had. Those two guys [Gordon and Austin Ekeler], and their adaptability and flexibility can help some."

Gordon caught just 22 passes during his college career at Wisconsin. Each of his three NFL seasons has seen his productivity as a pass catcher increase, from 33 receptions as a rookie, to 41, to 58 catches for 476 yards and four TDs in 2017.

Despite earning 83 targets last season, the 25-year-old Gordon believes he has room to grow as a pass-catcher.

"In the passing game, just as far as the expansion of the routes, just in that direction," Gordon said. "It will come. I know Whiz draws up things here and there depending on what he sees from a defense, but Phil's [Philip Rivers] going to get you the ball regardless, so I'm not really too pressed about it. We'll be fine in that area."

With much of the league employing backfield committees, Gordon is one of the few every-down running backs left. Improved pass-catching acumen could make the former first-round pick an even more vital part of the Chargers offense in 2018.

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