Chargers Must Establish Run-Game

When the San Diego Chargers drafted Ryan Mathews in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, they assumed he’d be able to make a smooth transition to the NFL and start the transition into a new era after the departure of franchise legend LaDainian Tomlinson. That didn’t happen in 2010 and while the transition started to look better in 2011, there are still some question marks about the Chargers running back depth chart.

Mathews has looked fantastic in training camp and head coach Norv Turner believes he can be one of the best in the NFL. But Mathews has never handled more than 222 carries in an NFL season and while he’s likely to do more this year, the Chargers know that they need to have capable backups just in case. Last season, Mike Tolbert handled 121 carries while Curtis Brinkley and Jacob Hester accounted for another 58.

That’s why the Chargers went out in free agency and signed veterans Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle. They also drafted former Michigan State running back Edwin Baker in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

While Mathews appears to be a burgeoning star, Brown has looked phenomenal early on in training camp. He dropped 20 pounds in the offseason and looks light and quick. He has the ability to not only handle third down duties but maybe even give Mathews a breather on early downs.

The Chargers are at 29/1 to win the Super Bowl but their running game will be critical to those NFL odds. If Mathews can become the star that the Chargers staff can believe he’ll be and Brown – or others – can step up and provide quality carries when Mathews needs a break, the ripple effect will see less pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers and a more-balanced offense.

If Rivers has to do it all himself and throw the ball roughly 600 times again, well...we know how that will turn out.

August 3, 2012

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