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All Mathews, all the time?
Posted Jun. 01 at 05:43 AM
Mike Tolbert is gone, leaving Ryan Mathews as the clear main man in San Diego's backfield. As things currently stand, it looks like he'll be the team's only back certain to get any carries at all.
According to Norv Turner, right now, Mathews would be not only the team's starter but the third-down back as well. That's subject to change -- the team also has Curtis Brinkley, LeRon McClain, and seventh-rounder Edwin Baker -- but for now, Mathews is the guy. And it might be the case in Week 1.
Reading what Turner has to say, it looks like he makes McClain the favorite, calling him "an excellent receiver and very good pass protector." That was the role that Tolbert held, so perhaps McClain will too.
In any case, it's also possible that Mathews will hold some of those responsibilities. It might be hard to get him off the field this year.
Posted by GREGORY BLAKE | Jun. 01 at 08:46 AM
Norv Turner has shown a propensity for making grandiose claims about his own players during the offseason. The one that most sticks out most in my mind was his ’09 claim that LT, clearly in decline, could win the rushing title and should see well over 320 or so carries. (LINK: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/peter_king/03/29/march30/1.html) Turner has also heaped praise on Gates this offseason. He’s even done the same for Jackson in Tampa. It’s just what he does. Every season. I like Mathews but any and all claims made by Turner must be taken with a grain of salt.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jun. 01 at 09:02 AM
That is true, although really Turner is no worse than anyone else. In any case, most of Turner's history has been to lean on one featured back (prior to the Tolbert-Mathews pairing the last couple of years), so it's positive for Mathews to think Turner believes he can handle it.
Posted by GREGORY BLAKE | Jun. 01 at 10:32 AM
I realize Turner has the “featured back” rep but I don’t think he’s been much more apt to go that route than other coaches. Turner has simply often been associated with teams that have a very good, sometimes exceptional RB. And in most cases, there was no one else worth giving carries to on those teams. There was Smith in Dallas. Terry Allen and then Stephen Davis in Washington. Rickey Williams in Miami. LaMont Jordan in Oakland (who was a big FA signing). Gore in SF. And LT in San Diego. During the seasons Turner had no great RB – his first seasons in Washington and Oakland, and the post LT-era in SD – he used a committee. I don’t think his actions were much different than any other coaches would have been in those situations. All that said, I do agree the opportunity is there for Mathews given the roster. And I can certainly see Brinkley in the Skip Hicks role, having some modest success if Mathews gets hurt. Thanks for indulging me…slow work day. Thanks for indulging me…slow work day.
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Jun. 01 at 11:20 AM
Mathews doesn't look particularly durable to me. He's missed multiple games with multiple injuries in both of his seasons in San Diego, and he had injury issues at Fresno State. I expect the Chargers will plug McClain into much of that old Tolbert role, and McClain will score most of the team's 1- and 2-yard touchdowns. McClain was a very effective short-yardage runner one year in Baltimore.
Posted by GREGORY BLAKE | Jun. 01 at 11:50 AM
It'll be interesting to see what McClain's weight looks like come training camp. If he's down around 240-250 then I can see him taking on much of the Tolbert role, more than just goal-line carries.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jun. 01 at 12:53 PM
Kansas City talked about giving McClain some carries last year, and even with all their running back injuries he got 15 carries in 16 games. I know what Kansas City did with him doesn't matter now, but at this point he hasn't had a heavy-duty role as a ballcarrier since 2008.
Posted by BILL REHOR | Jun. 02 at 09:47 AM
"Mathews is injury-prone, McClain is out of shape, and Brinkley hates kittens. Call me, Norv." - Cedric Benson
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