SAN DIEGO (AP) — Chargers’ first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon has appeared in two commercials this year — one for a deodorant and one for a local furniture chain.
Four games into the season, though, and the running back has yet to make his first appearance in the end zone.
Maybe the first touchdown will come Monday night, when his San Diego Chargers (2-2) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2).
“I’m anxious man, you know, but I’m not even going to stress it,” Gordon said. “I’m not going to worry about it. I don’t even want to talk about it too much. I just want to let it happen.”
Gordon has carried only once inside the 20-yard line. That came last week in the Chargers’ home victory against the Cleveland Browns, when he was stuffed for no gain from the 1. On the next play, Philip Rivers threw a TD pass to tight end John Phillips.
“I think there’s a number of different things, depending on what’s called down there, executing a play, a number of things, whether he makes someone miss in the open field and continue in for a score,” coach Mike McCoy said. “It’s not one particular thing. I think that we have a plan going in. I know the goal-line play the first play wasn’t executed exactly how we wanted to but then we had a great call the next play to score. There’s a number of different things to get him in the end zone.
“But he’s working hard and we’re very happy with how he’s working in our system.”
The rookie said what stands out about the Steelers defense “is how fast they are and how physical they play, even the secondary. They’re running to get ahead. It looks like on film that everyone’s trying to kill you out there. That’s just the rep they’ve got. Pittsburgh’s a very tough defense, a tough team. They’ve got playmakers. So we’ve just got to go out there and play ball.”
Gordon’s season high is 88 yards rushing, which came in a Week 2 loss at Cleveland, so he’ll also be looking for his first 100-yard game Monday night, too.
By comparison, LaDainian Tomlinson had six touchdowns and three 100-yard games through his first four career games.
Ryan Mathews, the back Gordon replaced, had one touchdown and no 100-yard games in his first four games.
“It’s a long season,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “He certainly is a talented guy. We’ve had opportunities and he’s been close to breaking a couple.
“You just learn in this business to be patient and trust what you are doing and the people you are doing it with. He has all the tools to score a bunch of touchdowns and that is what we are hoping for in the coming weeks.”
The Chargers get tight end Antonio Gates back from a four-game suspension without pay for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Gates needs one touchdown catch for 100 in his Hall of Fame-caliber career.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has had plenty of other targets to throw to during Gates’ absence, including tight ends Ladarius Green and Philips, but few are better inside the 20-yard line than Gates. Rivers has thrown 72 touchdown passes to him, the most from a quarterback to a tight end in NFL history.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger was injured in Week 3, and Mike Vick, who was signed just before the season when backup Bruce Gradkowski was sidelined by a hand injury, took his place in a loss to Baltimore. Vick struggled in the second half and overtime against the Ravens and now faces a defense vulnerable to the run. Look for All-Pro RB Le’Veon Bell to get plenty of work to take the onus off Vick.
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