Melvin Gordon's Pre-Camp Message to Phillip Lindsay Hints at Coming Position Battle
Melvin Gordon is still rolling with the punches of being a newcomer on a team that for the first five years of his career served as one of his chief rivals. Gordons signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Denver Broncos back in March and enters training camp as one of the team's prized free-agent pickups.
The two-time Pro Bowler is still getting used to the fact that he's a Bronco.
"It's crazy, man," Gordon told NFL Network's LaDainian Tomlinson earlier this week. "Just being with the Chargers for so many years, man, it's crazy just to hear that. But I'm rocking with it. Let's go."
Gordon has been absent from the Broncos' unofficial offseason workouts that have been organized by second-year QB Drew Lock — and not just because of the pandemic. Gordon hasn't been paid yet by the Broncos, according to him.
He got a $4M signing bonus but since Gordon has been unable to rendezvous with the Broncos' medical staff to get his physical done, the money is yet to hit his bank account. That will be remedied later this month when Gordon reports for training camp.
But with camp quickly approaching, Gordon will be squaring off with Phillip Lindsay in what has to be the most anticipated roster battle of the summer. Lindsay, a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher and Pro Bowler in his own right, is seeking to remain the top ball-carrier on the depth chart while Gordon will look to justify his newfound salary and continue to grow his NFL legend.
Gordon is trying to maintain an optimistic and productive mindset with regard to his new teammate and remains adamant that he and Lindsay can forge one of the most dynamic RB tandems in the league.
"I hope it's electric," Gordon told Tomlinson. "I hope it's electric, because it's crazy his numbers, what it is. I've been playing with Austin Ekeler. A phenomenal player. Their game is about the same. And I think Lindsay is a great, phenomenal back. I say he's a Pro Bowl back himself. First year, 1,000-yard rusher. I think we can be a great one-two punch. I'm excited to get with him. No matter what, you've got to be a sponge in this league. Ollie [ex-Chargers RB Branden Oliver] taught me that and you've just got to be a sponge. You can learn from every player so I'm excited to learn from him and take some things from him and I know he feels the same way."
Tomlinson, who is himself an ex-Charger and Hall of Fame running back, understands the harsh realities of the NFL. No matter how the Broncos try to posture it publicly, the truth is, there's only one starting tailback position on this team.
How the reps get divvied up could be close to a 50-50 split when it's all said and done. But Tomlinson understands the core issue, the power that comes with owning the nominal starting job, and channeling his best Highlander impression, pointed out that there can be only one.
"We're going to compete for that spot," Gordon told Tomlinson. "I know it's his territory, his ground. I've been playing—you've got to take the humble route but I'm a competitor at the end of the day. I'm going to compete and he is, too. So I'm just going to put my head down and work and see where I'm at. But you're right. There can only be—a No. 1 guy and a No. 2 guy. It is what it is. But I'm going to go work and get mine. That's just what it is."
It's going to be fun to see how it shakes out. Gordon has his work cut out for him, undoubtedly. Because despite his high-priced contract, which the team will surely want to get a return on, this is Lindsay's home turf, his team, and his job.
As Lindsay said last week, to him, it doesn't matter who the Broncos pay or bring into the RB room, "They've got to get through me and it's very hard to do that."
Gordon has been training at The System 8 gym in Florida, trying to stay in shape. Meanwhile, Lindsay has been practicing with Lock and company in the unofficial workout sessions in Denver. Lindsay has focused on improving his hands, route running, and overall skill-set as a receiver.
It's going to be fun to see how it plays out. The Broncos will kick off training camp on July 28. UC Health Training Center is going to be ground zero for an intense battle as Lindsay and Gordon cross swords for the right to be the Broncos' No. 1 running back.