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Top rookie Gordon not helping Chargers

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Rookie running back Melvin Gordon has gone from a phenom to a bench-warmer in a flash.

Gordon, the San Diego Chargers’ top draft pick, didn’t play in the first half of the Chargers 37-29 loss to the Oakland Raiders Sunday. This came in the aftermath of him fumbling twice the previous week, giving him four on the year — one lost.

He was also nursing a sore ankle, but that wasn’t the reason he didn’t play early.

“We’re trying to win football games,” coach Mike McCoy said. “We’re not trying to punish people from week to week in a game.”

Gordon said it was a coach’s decision.

“I kind of felt like I wasn’t going to play in the first half,” he said. “(Running backs coach Ollie Wilson) told me to be ready and stay warm. Maybe they just thought a healthy (Branden Oliver) was best for the team. I don’t know.”

–Cornerback Jason Verrett is in just his second season but he knows how losing can lead to more losing.

“(We have) to get this losing disease that we have got right now off of us because losing is contagious,” he said.

So what ails the Chargers, losers of three straight?

“I don’t think it is lack of passion,” Verrett said. “It is just more of a willingness to want to. Everybody has the passion on this team to be great at each position, but it is the wanting to do more that is going to help us succeed.”

–Defensive tackle Corey Liuget hears the criticism headed in the direction of coach McCoy. But Liuget says it’s up to the players to stop this season from circling the drain.

“A player-driven team is better than a coach-driven team,” he said. “Our coaches want us to win badly, but we as players have to continue to put in the work each and every day. We’ll come back (Monday), Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, until we get this nasty taste out of our mouths next Sunday.”

–Chargers’ MIA: Veteran Pro Bowl players Antonio Gates (knee) and Eric Weddle (groin) did not play against the Raiders. Gates has played only one game after coming off suspension for using a banned substance. For Weddle, it was the first time in six years he was unable to line up at his safety spot.

Notes: Inside linebacker Manti Te’o (ankle) has missed two straight games and will be monitored this week. . . . Left guard Orlando Franklin (knee) exited Sunday’s game on a cart and he could miss a significant amount of time. . . . . Center Chris Watt (groin, concussion) missed his second straight game. . . . . Cornerback Craig Mager (hamstring) has missed five straight games. . . . Outside linebcker Tourek Williams (foot) remains out.


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