COSTA MESA, Calif. — In his first comments on Melvin Gordon‘s holdout situation since the start of training camp, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers sought to clear the air about any possible friction between himself and the workhorse running back.

“I know Melvin knows I’m pulling for him,” Rivers said. “And in saying that, that means you want what’s best for him. You want him to feel great. You him to be at peace with how it all ends, and hopefully it’s right here.

“He knows that. I doubt anything I said will make PFT [Pro Football Talk] headlines, but I think those that know me will know that’s what I meant all along.”

Asked about the running back depth behind Gordon three weeks ago in Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, Rivers voiced his support for those players while Gordon continued his holdout.

“It certainly is a deep position for us and those guys all love to play and work hard,” Rivers said three weeks earlier. “So, you know like I said, we love Melvin, but we’re going to go with what we got. It’s a pretty dang good group.”

Those words by some NFL observers were taken as a dig toward Gordon, something Rivers says is not the case. Rivers says he and several other teammates have talked with Gordon since then, and he remains supportive of Gordon’s eventual return to the team.

“If he’s not here, we’ve got to go, and I think that’s what I was saying three weeks ago,” Rivers said. “We do have good players here at that position, and so we’ve got to go.

“Are we better with Melvin? Heck yeah we are. So hopefully we have him, in addition to these other guys, and then it will be one of the saltiest running back groups around. Again, I’m in no place to speak for the organization, but I know no player is in a panic right now. We want to support him. We wish he was here, but we know it’s August 18 (actually August 15) and everything is OK at this point.”

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Louis Riddick says contract holdouts are all about timing and leverage and Melvin Gordon has neither.

Gordon is set to make $5.605 million in 2019 on the fifth-year team option of his rookie deal.

Gordon told the Chargers through his representation if he does not receive a new deal, he’ll sit out. Gordon’s agent, Damarius Bilbo, told ESPN’s Josina Anderson earlier this month that he requested the Chargers trade his client after the team remained at its initial offer of approximately $10 million per season. Gordon desires a contract extension that will compensate him among the top running backs in the league like Todd Gurley II, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, who earn an average of $13 to $14 million annually.

Cornerback Casey Hayward said that he talks to Gordon three times a week and has seen the running back’s videos on social media working out in shoulder pads and a helmet just south of the team’s headquarters in San Diego.

“For a brother like Melvin, he deserves what he wants to get, and what he’s worked hard for,” Hayward said. “He put himself in this position to get what he deserves. But overall, we’re kind of worried about who is here, and hopefully he can get his deal done, get back here with us and help us compete for a Super Bowl.”

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said he remains hopeful Gordon will eventually return to the team.

“He’s a pro’s pro,” Lynn said. “Whenever he reports, I’m sure he’ll be ready.”

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