San Diego Chargers: A healthy Ryan Mathews could lead to big things

By Kenny Gardner
Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers completed a trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up from the 28th pick in round 1 of the 2010 NFL Draft to choose Ryan Mathews with the 12th pick.

Mathews has injury problems, which goes back to college when he missed five games during the 2008 NCAA season due to a knee injury. Mathews missed at least two games in each of his three NFL seasons including four as a rookie and four last season due to breaking his collarbones.

San Diego has yet to get a healthy Mathews for a full season and the closest they got was a 2011 campaign in which he ranked 10th in the NFL with 1,091 rushing yards and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt in 14 games.

Mathews struggled last year after he missed the first two games of the regular season as he had career lows with one touchdown and 3.8 yards per attempt. Mathews’ season high in rushing yards for a game were 95 against the Cleveland Browns after gaining at least 100 yards in four games two years ago.

San Diego’s front office signed Danny Woodhead and reportedly reached out to Mathews’ predecessor LaDainian Tomlinson, but Mathews will still be the primary running back.

Mathews has the ability to be an explosive running back because no one who finished top 10 in rushing yards equaled his 4.9 yards per attempt in 2011. Mathews and the rushing attack needs to bounce back because while he averaged 3.8 yards per attempt, San Diego averaged 3.6 which ranked 31st in the league.

Philip Rivers ranked ninth in touchdown passes and 11th in QB rating last year so a true threat in the run game would open up the field for him, San Diego’s receivers and tight ends. Mathews will have a bounce back year if he stays healthy, which could be his best season in the league.

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