SAN DIEGO -- The nickname “All Day” fits for Adrian Peterson because he never stops bringing it to the defense on every down, and that relentlessness usually leads to big runs in the fourth quarter.
In his second season with the San Diego Chargers, Melvin Gordon pointed to Peterson’s calling card as something he picked up from his mentor in workouts with one of the best running backs in the game during his offseason training regimen in Houston, Texas.
“He told me when you’re tired, mentally don’t get beat -- don’t let that control you or be a factor in the work you put in,” Gordon said. “So I took that to heart and apply it when I get tired -- just being stronger mentally and get through it.
“It was good,” added Gordon. “He trains really hard. He definitely pushed me. There were some other guys there, too that helped push me. It wasn’t just AP. But he’s a hard worker. And being a back that every young back looks up to, it was just good to learn from him.”
Gordon trained with Peterson and his personal trainer James Cooper at O Athletik. Gordon admitted to being a little star struck working with Peterson at first.
“I was, especially the first day I was there,” Gordon said. “But he’s super cool. He’s no big-timer. He’s cool with everyone. He talks with everyone -- way cooler than I thought.”
Gordon immediately put the lessons gleaned from training with Peterson to work at Chargers Park. San Diego head coach Mike McCoy said a day before the team’s conditioning test on Friday, Gordon challenged a handful of teammates he was working out with to put in some extra cardio work and “didn’t break a sweat.”
After an uneven rookie season in which he rushed for just 641 yards and no touchdowns, NFL observers have concerns about Gordon’s production in Year 2. Those questions were magnified with the revelation that Gordon had microfracture knee surgery in January.
However, Gordon has been cleared to do everything on the field at the start of training camp, and appeared to have regained his explosiveness in San Diego’s first practice on Saturday.
“I don’t feel like there’s any change,” Gordon said. “Where I went to train at we tried to work on a lot of explosive drills and things like that, so I wouldn’t second guess myself when I come out here. So I feel good.
“There’s obviously some things I could clean up and be more explosive on, but I’ll work through that with [Chargers running backs coach] Ollie [Wilson] on drills.”
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said Gordon looked more decisive in his decision making and overall play on Saturday.
“I just felt a more confident guy,” Rivers said. “A guy that felt a little more comfortable, and I think that’s key for a running back. You’ve got to be hungry and do all of those things, but if you’re antsy as a rookie runner, you don’t see things right, just like as a quarterback if you’re all sped up you don’t make the right reads.”
Although he did not play up to his potential last season, McCoy emphasized it’s not up to Gordon alone to get San Diego’s running game going.
“I’m going to make one thing clear about Melvin -- it’s not just Melvin Gordon with the running game,” McCoy said. “Let’s make that clear right now. And I want to stop talking about him individually and things like that.
“In order for Melvin Gordon to have success in our system, the other 10 guys have got to do their jobs better. And Melvin’s got to do his job better, too. And he’ll tell you some things he has to clean up. But I get a little sick of talking about just one guy on offense when there’s 10 other guys out there.”
For his part, Gordon said he feels more comfortable in San Diego’s offense and his role on the team. That wasn’t always the case last season.
“I definitely feel more confident,” Gordon said. “I feel more confident about the playbook. I feel more confident in myself. I had a whole year to kind of figure things out. So you kind of know how the games are going to be, you kind of know how everything is going to be. So right now it’s about improving and bettering yourself for the team.”