Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn hopes a versatile, pass-catching running back emerges from the pack to pull snaps away from lead back Melvin Gordon in 2017, but he is also confident his star runner can handle the load as a receiver.
“Melvin Gordon has really good hands,” Lynn said after voluntary veteran mini camp on Wednesday. “When you have a Danny Woodhead, you find a way to try to use those guys, but Melvin could have done a lot of that himself.”
After recording just 22 receptions through his three-year career at Wisconsin, Gordon proved how valuable his hands were during his sophomore campaign with the Chargers.
With Woodhead and Branden Oliver out with injuries last season, Gordon led all Chargers backs with 41 receptions for 419 yards and two touchdowns.
Lynn, however, wants Gordon to have opportunities to see the sideline on third downs without a drop in production from his primary backup in 2017.
“I just want to give him a break,” Lynn said. “I’m not saying he can’t do it, but I like to use tandem backs. So, I like to create a role for guys that can do that and give Melvin a break.”
Chargers running backs Oliver, Kenneth Farrow, Andre Williams and newly signed free agent Kenjon Barner will all compete for the No. 2 spot in Lynn’s system.
However, if Lynn can’t find a reliable, dynamic back to step up to the plate, he will lean on his proven home run hitter to carry the load on third downs.
“I think Melvin will do just fine,” Lynn said. “I think he can match up with any linebacker or safety in this league.”