COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Workhorse running back Melvin Gordon made Anthony Lynn's decision to sit him last week a tough one before a win over the Kansas City Chiefs, after the Wisconsin product flashed promise during pregame warm-ups.
"He was very close," the Los Angeles Chargers coach said. "He looked good in pregame, but without having a full week of practice -- if we would have played that game on Sunday, he probably would have played it.
"But because we had an early game on Thursday no full-speed practices, I didn't think it was wise to put him out there."
Gordon's plan this week is to return to the field after a three-week absence to face the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday at the StubHub Center.
Lynn said Gordon will be limited in practice Monday.
"I don't want to get to the playoffs and be rusty," Gordon said. "I know Baltimore has a real good defense. It would have [been] good to hop back and knock some rust off against the Chiefs, but it's also a challenge to come knock some rust off against one of the best defenses in the league.
"It will be all right. I think the boys up front will get it done for me, but it's going to be a playoff atmosphere out there because we are playing for something and they are playing for something."
At 11-3, the Chargers clinched a postseason berth with a win over the Chiefs last week but still could get the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs if they win out and the Chiefs lose one of their last two remaining games.
The Ravens hold the final AFC wild-card spot at 8-6 and need to continue to win in order to hold that position.
Now in his fourth NFL season, Gordon said it's the first time he will play in the playoffs as player since high school.
"I feel like I'm built for these type of games," Gordon said. "That's why I play football; it's your squad against my squad and the loser goes home. I like that because you get everybody's best, and obviously they get your best."
While things are looking up for Gordon, fellow running back Austin Ekeler still has a few hurdles to clear. Ekeler missed last week's game because of a concussion and a bruised nerve in his neck.
Lynn said Ekeler still has not cleared the NFL concussion protocol.
Receiver Keenan Allen, who suffered a hip injury in the first half of the Kansas City game and did not return, will be limited to individual drills in practice Monday, Lynn said.
Defensive co-captain defensive tackle Brandon Mebane returned to practice this week. Mebane missed the last month to deal with the hospitalization of his daughter Makenna, who's in prenatal intensive care in Omaha, Nebraska, because of a heart condition that required additional surgery.
Tight end Hunter Henry practiced for the first time since May on Monday, leaving open a slight possibility that he returns to the field this season. Henry suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during offseason work on May 22. He had the issue surgically repaired two weeks later, and remains on the team's reserve physically unable to perform list.
However, Henry's return starts a three-week window for the Chargers to determine whether to place the Arkansas product on the active roster or on injured reserve.
Considered a long shot to return this season, Henry's rehab has gone well. Six months out from surgery, Henry has been seen on the practice field running and cutting under the supervision of the training staff.
"I'm just excited to get going again, so we'll see how it goes," Henry said. "I'm just taking it day by day, week by week. Each week we'll kind of practice and see how it responds. But I'm feeling real good right now. It's just maintaining what I've been doing and how my knee reacts."
Henry can look to Melvin Ingram for motivation. The Chargers defensive end product also suffered a torn ACL in May 2013 during offseason work.
Ingram worked diligently in his rehab and returned to the field that December, playing in six games -- including two postseason contests -- finishing with seven tackles, a sack and an interception.