The main story behind the Chargers run game is whether third year back Ryan Mathews can be consistent and live up to the high expectations. Mathews has had success in the past and has showed glimpses of greatness, but there are questions that he cannot be an every down type back,
Mathews has been the starter for the team since he was drafted with the 12th overall pick in 2010 draft. However, in his first year he was out a majority of the season with an injury. Last year, Mathews started to show the explosion that the Chargers drafted him for, rushing for 1,091 yards and 6 touchdowns. Even being named to the AFC Pro-Bowl to replace Ray Rice due to injury.
Head Coach Norv Turner believes that Matthews is ready to take on a much bigger load. "I personally think he's ready to take that next step" Turner said around the Chargers OTA's.
The Chargers need him to, after losing bruiser and third down specialist Mike Tolbert to free agency.
Mathews will need to more of an every down back and a threat in the pass game for Coach Turner's unique offense to work at an efficient level like it has in the past.
Fortunately, some of the carries may be taken by veteran back Ronnie Brown, a recent pickup by the Chargers to solidify the number two spot and provide more of a two back look. Brown, more of a bruiser than Mathews, but he can hit the homerun as he did many times in Miami. Brown provides the Bolts with a presence in the middle and perhaps a third down back while Mathews will stretch the field with his explosiveness. With a season he isn't so proud of last year in Philadelphia, Brown will be looking to recharge his career in San Diego. Said Brown, "Last year wasn't anywhere what I expected as far as being able to contribute." He also emphasized how him and Mathews will have a good time learning from each other and making plays.
Brown also ran the successful wildcat offense with the Dolphins, surely Turner is drooling with the opportunity to take advantage of the threat.
Chargers are looking strong in the Full Back department as well, adding veteran Le'Ron McClain, who will be more of a running full back that can gain the short yards similar to Tolbert. Also re-signing work horse and five year Charger Jacob Hester, who makes his difference in both lead and pass blocking.
With Mathews seemingly ready to bloom into the elite running back that he can be, Brown stepping in on third down situations and providing a solid backup, and blocking up front, the Chargers seem to be in the best position in the back field since the Tomlinson/Turner duo. Look for Mathews to have his break out season in 2012.
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