San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews finished his 2011 NFL season with 222 rushing attempts for 1,091 yards and six rushing touchdowns in 14 games. Mathews was 10th in the league in rushing yards, 16th in attempts and tied for 18th in rushing touchdowns. San Diego’s head coach Norv Turner has expressed a desire to get Mathews more touches in 2012. Mathews did not play in four games as a rookie in 2010, which is why Mike Tolbert led the team in rushing attempts with 182 while Mathews had 158. Tolbert went down to 121 attempts last season and signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers during the off-season.
San Diego brought in Ronnie Brown due to the lack of experience with their other backups. Curtis Brinkley was the only backup RB with NFL experience before they signed Brown. In his career, Brinkley has 32 rushing attempts for 112 yards and a touchdown. I expect Mathews to once again carry a majority of the load.
When Turner was the head coach of the Washington Redskins from 1994-2000, Terry Allen had two seasons of at least 300 rushing attempts while Stephen Davis had one. In 1999, Davis had a season with 290 attempts in 14 games and was on pace for 331 attempts had he played in all 16 games. LaDainian Tomlinson had a season with at least 300 rushing attempts under Turner during the 2007 season. Tomlinson was close to 300 attempts in 2008 when he had 292. Turner told Mathews that he reminds him of Ricky Williams. Williams was a workhorse as he led the NFL in rushing attempts in 2002 with 383 and led the league again with 392 attempts in 2003 as a member of the Miami Dolphins. If Turner decides to give Mathews around 300 rushing attempts, he should have a monster season in 2012.