The season is slowly winding down and the playoff brackets are starting to take shape. The (10-3) Chargers currently hold the fifth spot (out of six) and face their hardest task of the season this Thursday.
They will face the (11-2) Kansas City Chiefs, a team they haven’t beaten in nine straight meetings, at Arrowhead Stadium on a short week and with their starting running back banged up.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been out the last two weeks with a knee injury he sustained week 12 against the Arizona Cardinals. Gordon was a limited participant in practice on Tuesday, but it sounds like Gordon will be a game-time decision.
“I'm hopeful,” explained Lynn. “I mean, he's one of our better players. I'd like for him to play. We're trying to win every game we can to get into the playoffs — but if he's not ready; he's not going to play.”
Gordon has been working on the side during practices and on Sunday went through an intense workout like he would if he was going to play. He said he felt good, but said the workout was more to help his mental game so he is ready to go when he suits back up.
"I've been grinding hard to get back and we're still trying to decide what we're going to do," Gordon said. "I know Coach (Lynn) is trying to be careful and doesn't want me to further hurt myself or things like that. So we'll see where that goes, but I'm a lot stronger and more confident than I was last week."
During this process, Chargers coaches have preached patience with Gordon’s injury because they say there is still a lot of season left. Gordon has been a dual offensive force this year, running and receiving for a combined 1255 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"I'd love to be out there," Gordon said. "I know it's a big game and I know the guys want me to be out there. We need all of the playmakers we can to beat K.C.; you know how explosive they are.”
If Gordon can’t go then the team would have to look to rookie running backs Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome because of the concussion back up Austin Ekeler sustained at the end of the game against Cincinnati on Sunday.
"They'll be good," Rivers said. "It's just over communicating with the noise on pass protection and what route they have, all of those things, more so reminding them and offering peace of mind to take a little bit off of them so they can play fast."
Jackson showed up for the Chargers under the bright lights of Sunday Night football two weeks ago rushing for 63 yards and a touchdown. Newsome on the other hand, was a breakout star during the preseason but has only touched the ball five times in games that count.
“They were born to do this,” explained Gordon, “They are running backs and by all means they can go in there and make plays if they are asked to.”
It is no secret that Gordon has been a huge part of the offense this season and will be needed to try and control the clock to keep the Chiefs high powered offense on the bench. The Chargers will need Gordon on Thursday if they hope to accomplish something they haven’t done since December 29, 2013, and that is beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
NUTS N’ BOLTS
•Injury report: DNP: TE Sean Culkin (back), RB Austin Ekeler (neck/concussion), NT Brandon Mebane (not injury related), CB Trevor Williams (knee). Limited: RB Melvin Gordon (knee).