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Melvin Gordon has a message for George Paton, Nathaniel Hackett and Javonte Williams

Zac Stevens Avatar
June 21, 2022

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Since entering the NFL in 2015, Melvin Gordon has always been his team’s starting running back.

That could change for the first time this season.

With Javonte Williams’ breakout rookie season, No. 33 will have an opportunity to steal the Broncos’ starting running back job after Gordon had that title in 2021.

But No. 25 won’t just let the young talent run away with the job easily. In fact, he’s made that clear to the organization from the moment he signed his one-year deal to return to Denver.

“I told George [Paton] when I was at the table. I told him I’m not going to lay down. I’m not going to lay down, man,” Gordon said, referring to the starting running back job. “I’ve always had that mindset that I have to go get it and that they’re bringing someone in here to take your job.”

This is hardly Gordon’s first inter-squad competition. In fact, since 2018—Austin Ekeler’s second year in the NFL—Gordon has been significantly splitting carries with a number of different backs.

“I know a lot of people are wanting me to take a backseat. I get it. It’s been like that for a while. It was like that when I was with the Chargers. Everyone wanted Austin to start,” Gordon said during Denver’s mandatory minicamp on June, 13. “I just come out here and do my thing. Thanks for the motivation, everybody. I appreciate y’all for the extra motivation. I need it.”

In the past, the extra motivation has propelled Gordon. In 2018 and 2019, with the Chargers, Gordon battled the versatile Ekeler. When Gordon signed his two-year, $16-million contract with the Broncos in 2020, he shared a backfield with Phillip Lindsay. Last year, it was round one of Gordon and Williams splitting carries.

Yet despite competing against three different running backs over that four-year span, Gordon has led his team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in all four seasons. In every year of his career, he’s been the starter for the majority of the season.

Every year Gordon’s been in the NFL, he’s led his team in rushing attempts as well, however, last year he shared the ball with Williams exactly down the middle as they both had 203 attempts.

“I’m definitely going to be ready to battle. That’s what it is. It’s going to make us better—it did last year. I’m going to continue to do that,” Gordon stated about his approach to this season. “I know we’re going to do our thing—me and ‘Vonte’ (Javonte Williams) are going to do it. I don’t really know how we’re going to do the reps and things like that. The goal right now is to really master the playbook and let things play out.”

After training on his own instead of attending OTAs, Gordon admitted he missed out on “some small details” of Nathaniel Hackett’s new offense, but wasn’t worried that would put him behind Williams in the race for the starting job.

“The goal is to make them want to play me,” Gordon added. “I’m just going to go out here and do what’s best for the squad. I put my best foot forward every time I go out there, then I’ll see what happens.”

The former first-round pick turns 30 in April. Typically, that number spells doom for running backs as productive as Gordon has been throughout his seven-year career.

“I don’t care how old people think I’m getting. I feel good,” Gordon stated. “I’ve been sharing the ball since I’ve gotten in the league with running backs, so this is nothing new. I’ve been battling for a while. I think Austin Ekeler is one hell of a back, and I had to battle with him and do the same thing. It’s just my luck, man. I just happen to be paired up with some great backs—fortunately and unfortunately, I would say.”

So far, every time Gordon has faced competition from a teammate, he’s come out on top. But with Williams the future of the position in Denver, Gordon faces his toughest competition yet with training camp on the horizon.

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