Time really is running out for former first round pick Ryan Mathews as he struggles to keep his head above water in the NFL. With the changing of regimes this offseason, the current head coach and general manager in Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco respectively have no ties to the San Diego Chargers running back. This year really will be put up or shut up time for Mathews if he wants to remain a Bolt beyond the 2013 season.
The Chargers could have made that fact anymore clear for the ball carrier than in free agency when they brought in some top level competition in former New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead. McCoy won’t hesitate to play the hot hand with zero predispositions toward either player, so if Mathews is struggling, Woodhead will likely see the bulk of the workload.
Potential has always been the buzzword with Mathews, and there’s no denying the fact that the potential has flashed at times. Consistency is the biggest enemy for the former 12th overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, and his troubles with staying healthy (he’s missed 10 games in just three seasons) as well as hanging onto the football (12 career fumbles) have severely hampered his career.
These issues won’t just be swept under the rug by a coach and GM pairing that has no ties to Mathews. If the troubles that have plagued Mathews throughout his career resurface during the upcoming season, there’s no doubt he will quickly become an afterthought in the offense.
Training camp will go a long way toward determining just how many touches Mathews gets from the jump. Every player in the locker room will be learning a new offense this offseason with the change in coaches so no one has an advantage over anyone else. That puts the recently signed Woodhead on even footing with Mathews which could prove to be a difficult hurdle to overcome should the issues from the past continue.
It’s normally said that training camp and preseason don’t mean much to veteran players, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth for Mathews this year. This is his audition with a new coaching staff to prove that he still has what it takes to be a feature back in the NFL. The clock is certainly ticking on Mathews as the upcoming season approaches, but whether or not the watch gets rewound is the main question looming as training camp nears.