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Chargers' Mike McCoy expects improved Melvin Gordon in Year 2

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Early in the season, Mike McCoy saw flashes of the player he expected when the San Diego Chargers drafted running back Melvin Gordon in the first round last year.

Gordon sprung loose for a 21-yard run that appeared to be his first career touchdown in the season opener against the Detroit Lions, but it was later called back when replays revealed his elbow was down at the 14-yard line.

A week later, Gordon had three runs of 20-plus yards in a close loss on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.

McCoy said he expects to see more of those types of plays from the University of Wisconsin product in his second season. After an uneven performance in his rookie year, Gordon has the opportunity to heal from season-ending surgery required to fix torn cartilage in his left knee, along with self-scouting his rookie year on film.

“He’s going to be a better player,” McCoy said. “I think the big thing for any young player is you’re going to learn from your younger years. He’s going to look back in a year or two and say, ‘God, I wish I would have known that.’

“Whether it’s the preparation part of it, the way you study film and playing with players. He needs more consistency up front. We have to do a better job up front opening up holes. You watched the way we played up front and the way he ran earlier in the year; some of his best games were the first couple games of the year. And unfortunately we didn’t play as well and block as well up front as we needed to.”

Gordon finished with 641 rushing yards in 14 games played, averaging 3.5 yards a contest. After scoring 32 touchdowns his final season at Wisconsin, Gordon was held without a score his first season in San Diego, although the Chargers seldom gave him the ball in the red zone.

Gordon started the season strong but appeared to lose confidence as San Diego’s offensive line experienced injuries and inconsistent play up front, failing to regularly open up holes for the explosive running back.

Gordon eventually exhibited fumbling issues and a hesitancy in choosing the right running lane. The Chargers could not get the running game going and had to lean on Philip Rivers to carry the offense.

McCoy hopes the addition of new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson will help create more consistent play up front. Davidson and McCoy coached together previously with the Carolina Panthers.

Davidson served as the offensive coordinator in Carolina, while McCoy coached the quarterbacks and served as the passing game coordinator -- so the two already have a familiarity in terms of style of offense and scheme.

“It’s really going to be the guys up front doing a better job, and then him having the belief that this is where the ball should go,” McCoy said of Gordon. “And he to be more consistently making the right reads and cuts, also.

“Like all players, whatever you’re playing, when you’re not having as much success, at times you’re going to start questioning yourself a little bit and maybe be a little hesitant at times. But he’s a very talented player, and he’s going to have a great career.”

Gordon is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and may not be fully cleared to begin workouts once San Diego’s offseason program begins in mid-April.

“It’s a growth process,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. “Just like when you’re a freshman in college. Most big recruits in college as freshman were great high school players. But they get to college and realize there’s some things they have to get better at, there are some things I have to grow up and learn.

“It’s the same thing at the pro level your rookie year. So I’m sure we’ll continue to see that from him.”