It has been an up and down year so far for the Chargers run game. They were expected to be led by the young gun Ryan Mathews, but after four games it is Coastal Carolina product Mike Tolbert who currently tops the Chargers in rushing yards.
Mathews of course has already had to miss time due to injury, but with a promising Week Four campaign in which he amassed 55 yards on just nine carries and his first career touchdown, the future yet again appears bright for the rookie running back.
After dealing with ankle and elbow issues last week, Mathews stayed off the injury report this week and will be at full strength going into the Black Hole.
As previously mentioned, Tolbert has taken a very prominent role in the running game when given the chance. The supposed number three back on the roster has been a crucial cog in both San Diego wins, rushing for a combined 182 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns in the two victories.
But even with the eighth ranked rushing attack in the NFL there is still vast room for improvement.
The seven million dollar man Darren Sproles has yet to cash in like the Chargers had expected. Originally thought to be a featured offensive weapon once LaDainian Tomlinson departed, Sproles has just 23 offensive touches in four games. While both his average yards per run and catch are positive signs, the fact that the Chargers have shown little to no interest in involving him in the offense has many wondering why the big money went to him rather one or two other offensive weapons that have been in the headlines in the recent months.
But all of this may be about to turn around on Sunday. When the Chargers visit the Oakland Raiders this week they will be facing the 30th ranked rush defense in the league based on yards-per-game. The Silver and Black are giving up an un-Raider like 162 yards-per-game on the ground and have allowed five rushing touchdowns.
Even better for the Chargers is the fact that the Raiders have only forced one fumble this season from a running back or wide receiver, something that has been an incredible struggle – six in four games – for San Diego.
With nine defensive players listed on the injury report this week, the Raiders are struggling with depth on that side of the ball – something the Chargers are all too familiar with – which is even more reason to expect huge holes and long runs.
Coming off of a week in which Oakland allowed 249 rushing yards and recorded zero sacks, it looks like now is the time for the San Diego rushing attack to finally get on track.
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