Chargers expect injured RB Gordon to return after bye week
LONDON (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers believe running back Melvin Gordon will be able to return after the bye week from a hamstring injury that kept him out of their game against the Tennessee Titans.
Even without Gordon, the Chargers edged the Titans 20-19 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Gordon, who entered the weekend third in the league with 466 rushing yards, was added to the injury report on Saturday. He was held out of practice a day earlier after the Chargers crossed the Atlantic for what coach Anthony Lynn said was a precautionary measure.
The running back warmed up before the game, but Lynn decided that he wasn't ready for a full workload against Tennessee and hopes to have him back when Los Angeles travels to face the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 4.
"Obviously, we're better with Melvin Gordon, but I just felt like I had to protect him today because I don't want this to be a lingering thing," Lynn said. "I want to get him back for Seattle and he's got a bye week off. He'll be rehabbing and getting healthy, and hopefully, we'll have a full-speed Melvin back in a couple weeks."
The Chargers handed a first career start to second-year running back Austin Ekeler, who finished with 42 yards on 12 carries and also caught five passes for 26 yards.
Gordon ran for 132 yards and three touchdowns in the road win against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 14 and had surpassed 100 rushing yards in two of his last three games.
Behind Gordon, Los Angeles had the league's fifth-ranked rushing offense at 137.3 yards per game but was held to just 47 yards on the ground by Tennessee's 26th-ranked run defense.
"Frustrated," Gordon said after the win. "I'll be back next game."
Here's what else we learned in the Chargers' victory:
PLAYING TO WIN
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he will continue to coach aggressively after the go-ahead 2-point conversion failed with 31 seconds remaining.
Vrabel has made several aggressive play calls since being hired as the Titans' coach before this season and acknowledged that the decision to go for it was inspired in part by the team's two-game losing streak.
"I'm just trying to do what's best for the team," Vrabel said. "I'm trying to find a way to win a football game and haven't done a very good job the last three weeks."
The Titans only allowed quarterback Marcus Mariota to be sacked twice after he was dropped 11 times in the 21-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the previous game, and Derrick Henry scored Tennessee's first touchdown since the closing minutes of the road loss to the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 7.
"Getting in the end zone was a huge step forward for us, but obviously, it's all for nothing if you don't win the game," left tackle Taylor Lewan said.
EYES ON THE PRIZE
Quarterback Philip Rivers said that the victory, which moved the Chargers to 5-2 this season, will galvanize the team as it prepares to chase down the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
The Chargers have reached the playoffs just once in the last eight seasons and narrowly missed out last year after finishing 9-7.
"Everybody enjoys winning, but (this team enjoys) winning together," Rivers said. "It's as excited as I've seen a locker room postgame in a while — just the energy. It's hard to win in this league."
Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe could return from the bye week with a greater role in the offense after catching seven passes for a career-high 101 yards, including five for 75 yards on third down, on Sunday.
"The more you perform and you make players, the more opportunities come your way," Vrabel said. "Being able to convert third downs in this league is critical, and so Tajae has been a great asset for us to convert those."
Sharpe, in his third year out of UMass, missed all of last season with a foot injury. He had not caught seven passes in a game since his debut on Sept. 11, 2016, when he had 76 yards in a 25-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
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