The San Diego Chargers traded up in the 2010 NFL Draft to select Ryan Mathews with the 12th pick. Mathews was brought in and had big shoes to fill because he was expected to replace LaDainian Tomlinson.
Mathews has a history of injuries which goes back to 2008 which was his sophomore year in college. Mathews missed five games with a knee injury in 2008, missed four games as a rookie in 2010, missed two games in 2011 and missed four games in 2012.
Mathews suffered a broken clavicle against the Green Bay Packers in August of 2012 which caused him to miss the first two regular season games of the 2012 NFL season. Mathews was averaging a career low 3.8 yards per rushing attempt in 2012 before he broke his clavicle against the Carolina Panthers which caused him to miss two games. Mathews also had a career low one rushing touchdown before his injury against Carolina.
San Diego’s front office and Charger fans have seen flashes of greatness by Mathews because he ranked 10th in the NFL with 1,091 rushing yards in 2011 and no one in the top 10 equaled his 4.9 yards per attempt.
In 2011, Mathews had four games in which he ran for at least 100 yards while his season high for a game in 2012 was 95 against the Cleveland Browns.
In his first two seasons, Mathews combined for 10 fumbles and former general manager A.J. Smith said that Mathews would be someone else’s fumbler if he continued to have problems holding onto the ball. Mathews only had two fumbles in 12 games which was one of if not the only bright spot for him in 2012.
I expect 2013 to be a make or break season for Mathews because San Diego needs him to be healthy and productive. Mathews was a reason why San Diego ranked 31st in yards per attempt and last in rushing touchdowns.
San Diego’s front office should bring in another running back like Reggie Bush to take pressure away from Mathews and limit the chances of him suffering an injury.
Mathews will have one year left on his contract after the 2013 season. If Mathews has a bad season or suffers an injury that causes him to miss games, I believe that he will be traded or released before the 2014 season.