The Los Angeles Chargers will be without running back Melvin Gordon for a third straight contest as they look to close the one-game gap with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West during Thursday's head-to-head matchup.
Gordon hasn't played since a Nov. 25 win over the Arizona Cardinals with a knee injury, and Omar Ruiz of NFL Network said he spoke with the running back. Gordon said he felt alright but indicated he wouldn't take the field against the Chiefs.
Ruiz also discussed Gordon's status with head coach Anthony Lynn, who called it a difficult decision to hold Gordon out. However, having him back and healthy for the final push of the regular season and playoffs factored into the decision.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the expectation was Gordon would miss two to four weeks when he suffered the setback 18 days ago.
The Wisconsin product has 802 rushing yards, 453 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns this season. It will be difficult to replicate his impact, although Ian Rapoport of NFL Network noted the team promoted running back Troymaine Pope from the practice squad for depth purposes with Gordon sidelined.
The Chargers will need all hands on deck since running back Austin Ekeler is also out with a neck injury and concussion, per Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk.
Look for rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome to see significant playing time in the absence of the first two backs. Jackson tallied 57 rushing yards against the Cardinals in the game Gordon hurt himself and followed with 63 rushing yards and a score against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 2.
He will have the opportunity to continue putting up solid numbers against a Chiefs defense that is just 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game.