According to Dan Hanzus of nfl.com, San Diego Chargers starting running back Ryan Mathews will not play in the regular season opener against the Oakland Raiders on Monday. Mathews broke his clavicle four weeks ago in a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Mathews was expected to miss 4-6 weeks at the time of his injury and was aiming for the regular season opener which is about four and a half weeks after his injury happened.
Stephania Bell is a physical therapist for ESPN and her prediction was right because she said that Mathews would be out five or six weeks. Mathews returned to the practice field five days ago, but was not cleared for contact. Mathews should be ready for the home opener against the Tennessee Titans on September 16, 2012.
In two games against Oakland, Mathews received limited rushing attempts with 15, but ran for 93 yards which is an average of 6.2 yards per attempt. Mathews did not reach the end zone and although it was not his fault, San Diego went 0-2 in these games against Oakland.
It is better to be safe than sorry, so I think that sitting Mathews for week one is the right move. San Diego may not need Mathews on Monday, but they will need him for the majority of the 2012 NFL season.
Mathews finished the 2011 season ranked 10th in rushing yards, 12th in rushing yards per game and no one in the top 10 in rushing yards had more yards per attempt.
Ronnie Brown should get most of the rushing attempts on Monday against Oakland. In four career games against the Raiders, Brown has 70 rushing attempts, 378 yards and two touchdowns.
San Diego is 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Raiders in Oakland including a victory that cost them the AFC West title in 2011. I expect this trend to continue on Monday.