When Melvin Gordon contacted trainer Todd Durkin, training camp had already begun — without the Chargers star running back. Gordon was holding out and in need of a workout routine that would put him in football shape as quickly as possible.
A day later, Gordon was at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego. Seven pounds heavier than he is currently, Gordon arrived determined to catch up to his teammates who were training without him.
“Although we did strength training and squats and lower-body stuff, too, my whole thing was, I needed to get his lungs in shape because he wasn’t where I wanted him to be,” Durkin said this week. “If he had to play in mid-August, he wouldn’t have been ready. Week 1, for instance, he was needing quite a bit of recovery between reps. We were trying to do 2-minute drives and he was feeling the ramifications. Now, we’ve been pushing the pace and he’s ready. He’s ready.”
Gordon may need to be. He was officially placed on the active roster Saturday after rejoining his team this week. He looked good in practice, but has had a short acclimation period. Hence, why sources say Gordon may only be used in an emergency fashion.
At the most, he’ll get limited snaps. But based on the work he did while away from his team, he’ll be prepared. With plenty of on-field, football-centric reps, Gordon did his best while away from the game.
“There’s no way to replicate that same collisions as Sunday,” said Durkin, who utilized weights, plyometrics, Pilates and everything in between. “We busted his tail to try to mimic it, but he’s not getting hit, it’s not the same. We’ve been going all out, but there’s nothing like having a 240-pound linebacker chase you. But lung-wise, he’ll be able to handle it.”
Gordon wasn’t alone.
Giants wide receiver Golden Tate, a longtime devotee of Durkin’s, joined Gordon over the last four weeks. To get on-field reps, free agent quarterback Luis Perez worked them out, too. He’s been their QB for the last month or so.
With no end in sight, the mission was to get in shape fast, then stay in shape until the holdout ended, whenever that was.
“Not knowing if he was holding out for four weeks, two weeks, nine weeks, it was whatever I got to do to get him in football shape, even though he wasn’t playing football,” Durkin said.
Gordon was put in a helmet and shoulder pads and did on-field drills. He caught passes from Perez and “got some good looks,” according to Durkin.
Then Tate showed up. The Giants receiver was serving his four-game suspension and had the same goals as Gordon — to be more than ready. They would gather on Monday with Durkin and go over the games their teams played, knowing they had no part in it. It hurt and motivated them.
“When you’re by yourself, it’s kinda hard,” Durkin said. “When Golden joined the crew, it was awesome. There was a little camaraderie, but a little competition, too. That livened him up. I can’t say enough about what Golden did. He was like, ‘Todd, I want to tear it up.’ So we busted their tails for four or five weeks. This is the hardest I’ve seen (Tate) work. And he’s been a great influence on Melvin, because he’s on a mission.”
Both players had issues swirling. With Gordon it was his holdout, his lack of a contract, his fines and missing games. With Tate, it was his looming PED suspension, which ends next week.
“For both guys it was, ‘Control the controllables,'” Durkin said. “‘What you do today matters.’ They weren’t leaving any stone unturned and when it was time to play again, they needed to be ready.”
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