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Melvin Gordon believes canceling practice can bring team together

Free agent thanks teammates for having his back
Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 19:09:36-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Melvin Gordon stepped in front of his teammates Thursday, vulnerable and emotional.

The Broncos canceled practice in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisc. Gordon hails from Kenosha, and most of his family still calls the city home. So for Gordon, the issue was extremely personal. He appreciated his teammates for supporting him, especially since he's new to Denver and still trying to find his fit with the Broncos.

In that regard Thursday, he told me, can be a galvanizing force.

"Yeah, it should definitely help us. Right now, we need to be as close as we possibly can. A lot of us are from different areas. This can happen in anyone’s community. We all have to be there for each other. During these times — these tough times — we have to be one. We all have to be one, be united and stand together," said Gordon, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Chargers.

"During these times, we need to be close, we need to be together and we need to stick together as a brotherhood. They definitely showed me that they’re there and they’re behind my back through whatever. They’re down to ride.”

Troy Renck's Broncos practice recap

Gordon recalled a positive experience growing up in Kenosha, explaining he had no "struggles" with law enforcement. It made the events in his city hard to reconcile. Blake was shot seven times and paralyzed when shot from behind by a police officer answering a domestic dispute call. A few days later, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was taken into custody on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly shooting people during a protest in Kenosha.

"In our community -- we have a nice community. Everyone looks after one another, but to see (the shooting of Blake), it was just disgusting. It was disgusting for that to be displayed around the whole world. It was just bad," Gordon said. "During that shooting with the kid — I forgot his name — when he was out there, some of my family members were out there. That worried me because that could have been them. I spoke to them and speak to them every day, just worried, and they say they’re safe. Still, it’s just scary to know that you can go outside and not feel safe anymore in a community that I thought was one of the safest. You have to be alert. I’m worried, but like I said, I keep in communication and they’re in pretty good hands right now.”

The Broncos players plan to take a unified approach in creating lasting change. Justin Simmons understands it will take time, but that cannot dissuade or temper their efforts. On this date in 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, a fact not lost on Simmons.

"This is not something that — even if he we put the greatest minds in America in support of trying to fight for equality — it’s not something that’s just going to happen overnight. My biggest goal is to leave something behind that the next generation can pick up and continue to move forward with and we’re no longer taking steps backwards. That’s the biggest thing," Simmons said. "I want to see – I may not see the legitimate change, but hopefully my kids or my kid’s kids can say, ‘Man, I remember.’ Here’s what we need to do, here's the changes we need to make and here’s the outlines they left behind for us that we can take ahold of and see if we can be the change. That’s something I look forward to that I hope happens down the road."

Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Demar Dotson, who received a few first-team reps on Friday, could still start, but Elijah Wilkinson remains the frontrunner at right tackle. "As long as Elijah (Wilkinson) is playing the way we think he's capable of playing, he's the starting right tackle." Because of his age, Dotson profiles more as a part-time player available to help if Wilkinson struggles or needs to shift to left tackle for Garett Bolles.

Rookie Lloyd Cushenberry took first-team reps again at center and appears to be separating himself from the competition. ...

The Broncos will go through a dress rehearsal at Empower Field at Mile High on Saturday afternoon. That means they will warm up as if it is a real game, have a kickoff, take a halftime, etc. It's unclear how much live action with tackling to the ground will occur, if any. ...

Inside linebacker Todd Davis is making progress with his left calf injury. He worked on the side, doing light jogging. He appears on track to return to practice sometime next week. Rookie corner Michael Ojemudia (quad) and first-year receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) are improving, but not as close. ...

Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam continues his impressive training camp. He hauled in a deep strike from Drew Lock and caught a 10-yard touchdown from Jeff Driskel, showing terrific body control and separation at the top of the route. He remains an intriguing prospect, though it's unclear how much playing time he will warrant early. ...

Melvin Gordon did not participate in 11-on-11 contact drills as he returns from sore ribs. Phillip Lindsay has benefited from extra reps, showing bursts on short runs and swing passes. ...

At one point during practice Jerry Jeudy was favoring his right arm. He was looked at by the trainer, and after sitting out a few series, returned and finished practice, leaving coach Fangio to say he believes he's OK. ...

With K.J. Hamler (hamstring) out, DaeSean Hamilton has all but secured his roster spot with a series of a strong passes.