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Melvin Gordon smiles and runs even as he knows he's not popular choice

Still, the veteran tailback has been productive in his two seasons with the Broncos and he'd like to return for more.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Melvin Gordon III isn’t just a good running back, he’s an intelligent, perceptive and realistic young man.

He now knows the hired gun, well-paid free agent role isn’t a popular position, especially when he nudges over the hometown hero one year and takes carries away from the exciting rookie the next.

With his two-year, $16 million contract expiring with the Broncos after this season – which may be a month away, by the way – Gordon was asked at the end of his press conference Thursday whether he has given much thought to next year.

“Am I thinking about it? Hell, yeah, I’m thinking about it,’’ Gordon said with a smile and chuckle. “I’d love to be here, I want to be here. I don’t think many people want me here. As far as the fans. I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff, man. And I understand, I get it. But I love it here. It’s a great group of guys. Role models, older and younger to follow. It’s just a great atmosphere.

“Love the fans regardless. (Laughs) Regardless of the hate right now. I think it’s mostly because of Fantasy honestly.’’

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Last season, Gordon’s first with the Broncos after five mostly productive seasons with the Chargers, Phillip Lindsay was the fan favorite. Not only did Lindsay grow up in the Denver area and played his college ball at the University of Colorado, he’s a little guy with a big heart and infectious personality who started his Broncos’ career with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

But when Lindsay suffered from nagging injuries last season, Gordon after a slow start took off in the final seven games and finished with 986 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) scores a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Lindsay was let go at his own request in March, only for Gordon to be joined at the tailback position by second-round rookie Javonte Williams, whose inspiring tackler-carrying style lights up the crowd.

Still, through 11 games, Gordon was the Broncos’ leading rusher with 605 yards to Williams’ 568. But then Gordon missed the previous game at Kansas City because of a hip injury suffered on the first of his 17 carries the week before in a win against his former Chargers. Williams, meanwhile, had a huge game in defeat against the Chiefs and now leads the team with 670 rushing yards.

Gordon did not begrudge Williams for his fine performance in his stead last week.

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“He went crazy. He balled out,’’ Gordon said. “He did what we all know that he could do. We’ve been splitting the ball down the middle since we started the year off. You leave me in there or you leave him in there, just think of the yards we both have together and put them into one player, I think either one of us, if we didn’t have the other, we’d be top five in rushing.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) sits on the field after fumbling against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Denver. The Eagles scored a touchdown on the fumble recovery. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

To the Broncos and Fantasy fans referred to by Gordon, sorry about this but he thought he’d return to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions in the nonconference game at Empower Field at Mile High. Head coach Vic Fangio indicated Gordon’s status would be more questionable but if he did play, it would again be closer to the 50-50 workload split with Williams.

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