According to Brian Murphy of fftoolbox.com, Chargers head coach Norv Turner said “The starter, we’ll find out on the first play of the game. It’s not a big deal who gets the start.”
Jackie Battle started last week’s game against his former team the Kansas City Chiefs. Battle had 15 rushing attempts, 39 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to go along with four receptions, 42 yards and a TD reception.
Mathews had 14 rushing attempts, 61 rushing yards, two receptions and 21 receiving yards. Battle is listed as San Diego’s number one running back on the team’s website, but based on Turner’s comments, this does not mean that he will start tomorrow.
The decision to bring Mathews off the bench has been due to his tendency to fumble. Mathews has 11 fumbles in 28 games for his career. Mathews had a fumble in his 2012 regular season debut against the Atlanta Falcons on Atlanta’s seven yard line.
Mathews was tied for the NFL lead among running backs with five fumbles last year.
In the 2012 season, Battle has 32 rushing attempts, 163 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Mathews has 24 attempts, 105 yards and no touchdowns.
San Diego sent a message to Mathews by putting him on the bench and hopefully Mathews will stop fumbling so this will not happen again. Mathews can be a great running back, but he has to stop fumbling.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said that San Diego would release or trade Mathews if he keeps fumbling.
I think Smith’s comments were used to motivate Mathews though because as long as he stays healthy, Mathews should be the starting RB for the present and the future.