Less than three weeks ago, San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy publicly endorsed running back Ryan Mathews and said he expects him to be “the guy” to carry the load for the Bolts. It seems as though things have changed quickly, with the Bolts utilizing many running backs in their first-team offense throughout training camp.
Since training camp opened, the Bolts have rotated Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown in and out of the first-team offense. The Chargers are trying to become more versatile in the backfield and are likely planning on using all three backs and keep them fresh.
“I’ve been raised with (Denver Broncos head coach) John Fox in this league,” McCoy said. “We always played with a couple of backs. It doesn’t matter who’s in there. Keep them fresh.”
“That’s the big thing. Play the hot hand while you roll. If you’ve got to tap out for a play or two, we’ll put the next guy in.”
Woodhead and Brown are proving to be much more than insurance for the Bolts. Brown proved he can be an effective third-down back and receiver out of the backfield for the Bolts last season, but Woodhead has a chance to be even better this season.
Woodhead is primed to take over as the third-down back, which should already cut into Mathews’ playing time. However, Woodhead has been so impressive in camp so far that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Bolts figured out a way to get him on the field more often. His receiving and blocking ability is superior to Mathews’, and Woodhead seems to have gained Philip Rivers’ trust already. Woodhead is already proving to be a go-to guy for Rivers in the passing game.
The timeshare between the three running backs could be the best option for the Bolts. Mathews has dealt with too many injuries throughout his short career to warrant being the workhorse back. Less could even be more for Mathews if less pounding results in better health and more explosiveness when he does get his opportunities.