ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos' backfield looks a whole lot different this year with local favorite Phillip Lindsay gone, replaced by second-round draft pick Javonte Williams and free agent acquisition Mike Boone.
Even returning starter Melvin Gordon III looks different.
Gordon made his on-field offseason debut at the team's mandatory minicamp Tuesday and showed off a buffer body, shorn locks and even a smile and joviality that were absent almost all of last year.
Gordon said his weight is still 215 but his body is harder because “I actually got to train and do what I do” a year after the pandemic curtailed his normal offseason regime.
“Most of the gyms were closed down. People were trying to run at their houses. I mean, I was literally meeting up with people trying to sneak into gyms to try to train,” Gordon said. “So, it was tough. I didn't really go through what I (normally) go through to get myself prepared and ready for the season.”
After five seasons with the Chargers, the former first-round pick signed a two-year, $16 million deal last year with division rival Denver. His first year with the Broncos was a wild ride that included a career-low 10 starts, 986 yards rushing and nine TDs.
Along the way, he scored his 50th career touchdown and surpassed 5,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards for his career. But he also fumbled four times and was dogged by an speeding-while-impaired citation that threatened to scuttle the second year of his contract until the case was resolved in his favor this offseason.
With Lindsay signing with Houston, Gordon returns as the incumbent starter determined to make the most of his second season in orange and navy.
Gordon, who is due about $7 million in salary and bonus this season, said he “went back to his roots with everything opening back up” to get himself physically ready for the 2021 season.
“I know what I need to do to come out here and be special,” Gordon said. "... Just because I haven't been here don't mean I haven't been working. I grind. That's what I do. I've prided myself on that since I was at Wisconsin and I'm going to continue to work hard as if I'm a free agent."
Gordon also ditched the dreadlocks since he last suited up for the Broncos.
“Bo Jackson's been trying to get me to cut my hair for a while. So, I know he's somewhere smiling," Gordon said. “But I just wanted some change, man. I just felt it was time. I've been wanting to cut it for a couple of years now. I was just kind of nervous, kind of scared to.”
Not everyone's a fan of his new 'do.
“My dad was (ticked) at me. He literally told me, ‘You’ll lose the power of Flash if you cut your hair,'” Gordon said with a laugh. “He's a little (ticked). But it's not the hair, man, it's the talent."
Asked if he had shed a couple of pounds at the barbershop alone, Gordon laughed.
“You would think, right? No, I weigh the same, I'm pretty much the same," Gordon said as he leaned back in his chair on the Zoom call after Tuesday's practice and unwittingly showed off his more chiseled upper body.
“I went down a size in my helmet, though,” Gordon said as he leaned back into the camera. “So, I can actually fit in a large instead of having to wear an extra large now.”
Notes: Among the Broncos' five minicamp tryout players are former Seahawks LB Shaquem Griffin. ... HC Vic Fangio said one player who's had a really good offseason is WR Kendall Hinton, who filled in at quarterback against the Saints last year. QB Drew Lock concurred: “Super aggressive to the ball. You feel like you can throw him the ball 1-on-1 and he's going to go get it." ... QB Teddy Bridgewater revealed he suffered a knee injury against Tampa Bay in Week 10 last year and probably should have shut it down the rest of the season because it affected his play over the last two months. He said he's 100% now.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL