AFC West Q&A: Can Chargers RB Melvin Gordon rush for 1,000 yards this season?

Today's question: Coming off microfracture surgery, can second-year running back Melvin Gordon rush for 1,000 yards this season?

Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter: The allure of a 1,000-yard rushing season is somewhat tempered by the fact that a back, in the 16-game NFL season, needs to average a rather pedestrian 62.5 yards rushing per game to hit the benchmark. But Gordon averaged more than that total in just one game the past season -- an 88-yard effort in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals -- before surgery, and the odds are stacked against his bouncing back with a 1,000-yard season. History has shown that though players can often return to the field within four to six months of surgery, it often takes a full calendar year for those who have had microfracture surgery to return to full strength. That would seem to be especially true for a running back. The Chargers were 22nd in the league in rushing attempts the past season and were last in rushing touchdowns, with four; Gordon had no rushing touchdowns in his rookie season. With an offense that figures to once again lean on quarterback Philip Rivers -- the Chargers were tied for second in the league in pass attempts the past season -- behind an offensive line with question marks and a back coming off microfracture surgery, a 1,000-yard season seems a lot to ask.

Adam Teicher, Kansas City Chiefs reporter: It’s going to take a lot for that to happen. Gordon has to be healthy, and even if he is, he’ll need to be far more productive than he was as a rookie, when he rushed for 641 yards and, more troubling, 3.5 yards per carry. At that rate, he’ll need almost 300 carries to get to 1,000 yards. It's not that the Chargers wouldn’t give him the ball that much, if necessary, but it probably won’t be necessary. San Diego was 4-12 last season, and quarterback Philip Rivers will again need to throw a lot for the Chargers to stay competitive. Gordon is talented enough to get to 1,000 yards, and the improvements San Diego made on the offensive line will get him closer than he got last year. But he will fall short of reaching that plateau. Only two AFC runners reached 1,000 yards the past season, and Gordon won’t be one of the select few to do so this year.

Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter: Can he? Sure, I suppose, so long as he’s healthy and ready to roll, given his combination of physicality and speed. But the Bolts are still Philip Rivers’ team, and so long as the quarterback and his omnipresent Bolo tie are running things in Mission Valley, the Chargers will be a pass-first team. Always. Besides, what did Gordon show last season to suggest that he’s a 1,000-yard back, even if the milestone is not what it used to be on the sporting landscape? To get to 1,000 yards on the ground, a back needs “merely” 62.5 rushing yards per game, and Gordon averaged 45.8 rushing yards in 14 games the past season. He averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per carry on his 184 attempts, so to get to 1,000 yards, Gordon would need 103 more rushes. In his lone appearance against the Raiders, he rushed for 29 yards on seven carries as San Diego played catch-up in a 37-29 loss. Sorry, I just don’t see it happening in the current Chargers environment.