CARSON, Calif. -- In his first playing time of the 2019 regular season, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon showed plenty of rust on Sunday, looking like someone who has missed over two months of work.
The Wisconsin product appeared out of sorts and had trouble finding any rhythm running the football in a 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. The result was 31 rushing yards on 11 carries for a paltry 2.6-yard average.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Gordon was held to 38 total yards from scrimmage and no first downs -- the first time in 56 career games that Gordon failed to pick up a first down either rushing or receiving.
"Physically, I was good," Gordon said. "The first time I got hit, it's different. You can't emulate that no matter what you do. You kind of get that first hit and go, 'OK, that's how it feels.'
"You just have to get used to running, guys hitting you and stiff-arming. It's just so different. Just getting back and adjusting things, but we're definitely going up from here."
Without an effective running game, the Chargers struggled to move the ball against previously winless Denver at Dignity Health Sports Complex.
Entering Sunday's contest, the Broncos had allowed 149.2 rushing yards per contest, fourth worst in the NFL.
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn acknowledged that Gordon still has work to do.
"Melvin's a good football player," Lynn said. "We welcome Melvin back to our offense, but he wasn't ready to play a whole game, so I didn't play him a whole game. But he played some. He didn't have many opportunities, I can tell you that. But he played OK."
The last time a defense bottled up Gordon was in the AFC divisional playoff loss last season to the New England Patriots. Playing with braces on both knees, Gordon gained just 15 yards on nine carries.
Quarterback Philip Rivers expects a more dynamic Gordon once he gets up to speed with the offense again.
"It was his first game back, and his first game touching the ball live, full speed since January," Rivers said. "He played hard and ran hard, like we know him to do.
"But I think when we all take a look at it, maybe there's a cut here and there that he could have made -- maybe not -- but I thought we had some good 4-, 5- and 6-yard runs. Just all in all, it wasn't good enough collectively."