Jay Paris: Once Gordon chills, he’ll heat up

Jay Paris: Once Gordon chills, he’ll heat up
San Diego Chargers rookie running back Melvin Gordon punches the clock for real in the season opener Sept. 13 against the Lions. File photo by Bill Reilly

Here’s a switch: The ultra-hyper Philip Rivers telling someone to chill.

“Phil is, ‘just calm down, slow it down,’’’ running back Melvin Gordon said.

Few are more geeked-up than Rivers on game day. He’s gums never stop flapping and his emotions share his sleeve with the team logo.

But Rivers noticed that Gordon, the former Wisconsin star, is still playing a 33 rpm record at 78 rpm speed — kids, ask your grandparents.

“The more reps I get in the game, the game started slowing down,’’ Gordon said. “But I hear in the regular season it speeds back up. I might be hearing it a little but more. We’ll see.’’

What Gordon has shown in the preseason has Chargers fans jittery. He’s averaging 2.3 yards per carry, not exactly the numbers he collected last year as an Heisman Trophy finalist.

But we mimic Rivers, here, and say chill as well.

Gordon’s got the goods. More importantly, he has the want-to.

“I think he’s a guy that is hungry,’’ Rivers said. “He is a guy that realizes how hard it is to play at a high level in this league. It is just not get it and run.’’

Hopefully the big bodies up front get it: Gordon needs holes to run through. During the preseason, Gordon’s best moves often were just to get back to the line of scrimmage.

But like Gordon, the offensive line is finding its way. The sooner both of them do just that the quicker last year’s dismal running game fades into the sunset.

The running attack could be a bright light and if that’s the case, look for Rivers to have a sensational year.

What helps Gordon is he’s not doing the heavy lifting by his lonesome. Danny Woodhead is back from his broken leg, Branden Oliver, last year’s leading rusher, still has swivel to his hips.

We’re not sure Donald Brown makes the team, so we’ll stick with the three boys with pep.

“He doesn’t need to feel like it is all on him in Week 1,’’ Rivers said of Gordon. “He is going to be a big part of it; he doesn’t have to carry the load about himself.’’

Gordon will — at some point. He’s learning the proper running angles while tackling the learning curve, too.

“It kind of takes me back to my freshman year of college, when you are getting adjusted, acclimated and used to everything,’’ he said. “I dealt with a lot of stress, worried about a lot of things, trying to play fast, to catch up with those guys and it is kind of the same now.

“Guys are a lot faster but I’ve been through the process, so I know how to handle it now.’’

Just don’t expect his mother to give him the kid’s glove treatment. She presents equal portions of love and constructive criticism.

“She told me that I did better than I did against Dallas,’’ Gordon said of her assessment of his showing against Seattle. “But I still got to kick it in gear; I got to keep working.’’

Gordon punches the clock for real in the season opener on Sept. 13 against the Lions.

We predict Gordon is ready to roar.

“People can tell you to calm it down on every play,’’ Gordon said. “But until you calm it down in your mind, it is still going to be fast.’’

He can do it by going slow — until the ball hits his midsection.

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.


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