Melvin Gordon ended his 66-day holdout Thursday, and his head coach is thrilled to have the two-time Pro Bowler back in the fold.
"It was good to see him," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "He's in a good state of mind. His teammates were excited. Just can't wait to see him get out there and play the game that he loves so much. And he'll be on the (practice) field this week. He'll practice. Never say never, but I doubt he'll play this weekend, but he will practice today and tomorrow. And we'll see."
Gordon held out through training camp and missed the first three games of the season in hopes of getting a new contract. With the Chargers holding firm at their offer of $10 million per year, a new deal never materialized for the running back. Gordon is subject to fines accrued during the holdout, at the team's discretion. He enters the final year of his rookie contract. Reporting now will allow the running back to hit free agency in 2020.
Lynn dismissed the idea that Gordon's holdout and return would be a distraction for the 1-2 Chargers, noting that teammates were thrilled to have the running back in the locker room. Lynn also added that the contract situation isn't something he frets about, noting, "That's (GM) Tom (Telesco's) job."
Gordon said Thursday in a social media post for the Chargers' official Twitter feed that he's just glad to be back with the squad.
"Bolt gang, what it do baby. Glad to be out here. Glad to be repping that 2-5. Time to get back to work and stack up these wins," he said.
Lynn said Thursday he hasn't decided whether or not Gordon would travel with the team to face the Dolphins in Miami. The coach, however, said he's not worried about the running back's mental state after missing the first three games.
"Just his conditioning, his agility just to see where he's at -- those things that you miss when you're not in football," Lynn said. "I'm not concerned about the contact. He's played football all his life. I just want to see where he's at stamina-wise."
Over the past three seasons, Gordon has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL, ranking fourth in rushing yards (2,987) and tied for second in rush TDs (38) from 2016-2018.
The Chargers have relied on Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson during Gordon's holdout. Sans Gordon, Ekeler has been one of the most dynamic RBs this season, generating 122.7 scrimmage yards per game and totaling four touchdowns through three contests. The play of the running backs afforded Gordon no leverage in his negotiations, eventually leading to his return.
Lynn made it clear, however, that once Gordon is ready to roll, he'll be the workhorse.
"No doubt. He's our starter," the coach said. "He was the starter for a reason and I like the way Austin and J.J [Justin Jackson]'s been working. They've done a heck of a job. They've both proved they can play in this league, but they will still have a major role in the offense. But as soon as Melvin's ready, he'll go back. He'll go back to No. 1."
Gordon should be ready to be that No. 1 back as early as Week 5.