PHOENIX — The Chargers have a running back in Melvin Gordon.
They think they have another in former Giant Andre Williams.
The Giants’ 2014 fourth-round draft pick was the team’s leading rusher as a rookie, but he lasted just two seasons in New York. He was cut at the end of training camp last year, and the Chargers claimed him off waivers. He split time between the practice squad and active roster for the Chargers in 2016 and played in just one game (he had 18 carries for 87 yards). The team re-signed him this offseason, and new coach Anthony Lynn seems to have Williams in his plans.
“I think we’re pretty solid,” Lynn said of the running back position for the Chargers while at the NFL’s annual meeting in Arizona on Tuesday. “I think Andre Williams is going to step up and do what he did his rookie year in New York.”
Considering he hasn’t done that since, it may be a bit of a gamble.
Williams ran for 721 yards and seven TDs in 2014, starting seven games and playing in all 16. But the following year he had zero starts, carried the ball only 88 times – mostly in short-yardage situations – and had 257 rushing yards.
Lynn believes he can fix Williams and restore him.
“Coming out of school I studied Andre,” Lynn said. “He’s a big back, he ran with good power. He’s a very disciplined athlete, he’s lost weight, he’s quicker now. And he still runs with power. Just teach him some things out of the backfield and the receiving game and things like that that can help him get more touches and he’s going to be fine.”
Lynn said he did not know what happened to lead to Williams’ precipitous decline.
“I have no idea,” he said. “He was with the New York Giants and I don’t know what they were telling him and what he was doing. I couldn’t answer that.”
But he thinks Williams can play a role for the Chargers behind Gordon.
“We’re looking for a guy who can be a tandem back with Melvin,” Lynn said. “I like to run the football multiple ways and it’s going to take more than one runner.”
Williams may be his guy.