Broncos' Melvin Gordon Says He's 'Struggling a Little Bit' with Denver Altitude

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2020

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Signing with a new team always brings a number of adjustments, and for Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III, the elevation in Denver is a major one.  

"I'm struggling a little bit, I'm struggling a up here little bit with the altitude," he told reporters Sunday. "What I keep hearing is when we play other places, we won't even get tired, so I'm looking forward to that."

The altitude can have a number of effects on the body, as athletes get less oxygen per breath and dehydrate more quickly. 

"Right now it's tough, trying to finish downfield, and things like that," Gordon said. "It's real dry. I'm trying to drink water every second, lips are dry. That's the biggest adjustment, working all offseason and coming here and still feeling like you're not in shape because of the altitude."

Gordon, 27, signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Broncos in the offseason after spending his first five seasons in San Diego and Los Angeles with the Chargers. The average elevation of San Diego is 62 feet. Los Angeles sits at an average elevation of 305 feet. Denver, however, is nicknamed the Mile High City because it sits 5,280 feet above sea level.

So it's quite the adjustment, though Gordon won't be expected to carry the load at running back by himself, with the talented Phillip Lindsay also available for Denver in a running back platoon. 

In 12 games last season, Gordon rushed for 612 yards and eight scores while adding 42 receptions for 296 yards and one touchdown. Lindsay, meanwhile, has rushed for over 1,000 yards in both of his seasons, registering 16 rushing touchdowns in that time. 

It's a strong one-two punch, and that depth will be valuable for the Broncos, especially as Gordon acclimates to the altitude.