Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is a training camp and preseason holdout, as the Pro Bowler seeks a contract extension from the team.
At the start of camp, Philip Rivers raised some eyebrows — including Gordon’s — when he said, “We love Melvin, but we’re going to go with what we’ve got,” appearing to not be supportive of a teammate trying to do what he believes is best for himself.
On Thursday, Rivers clarified the controversial comments.
‘You want to be as supportive as you can’
After the Chargers held their first joint practice with the New Orleans Saints, Rivers was asked again about Gordon, who is headed into the fifth and final year of his rookie contract and has led the team in yards from scrimmage each of the last three years.
“You always want to be as supportive as you can of your teammate,” Rivers said. “And at the same time, you’ve got to move forward with what you’ve got to do to get ready for the opener and beyond.
“So there’s a nice balance there. I know Melvin knows I’m pulling for him. And in saying that, that means you want what’s best for him, you want him to feel great, you want him to be at peace with how it all ends, and hopefully that’s right here.”
‘Are we better with Melvin? Heck yeah’
As Rivers noted, the Chargers have to prepare whether Gordon is there or not; it’s no different than if a significant player suffers a season-ending injury — the next day’s practice and the next game are still there. That’s NFL life.
Rivers seemed to believe his initial words didn’t come across the way he intended.
“We gotta go. If he’s not here, we gotta go. That’s what I was saying three weeks ago,” he said. “If he’s not, we gotta go. We do have good players here at that position.
“Are we better with Melvin? Heck yeah, we are. And so hopefully we have him in addition to the other guys, and then it will be one of the saltiest running back groups around.
“No player is in a panic. Right now we want to support him, we wish he was here but we also know it’s August  and everything is OK at this point.”
Currently the Chargers have third-year back Austin Ekeler on the top of their depth chart at running back. Ekeler had 554 rushing yards, 404 receiving yards and six total touchdowns last year.
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