Ryan Mathews Given Limited Role vs Chiefs

Coach Turner has "great trust" in Mathews, but Battle gives SD "best chance to win"?

10/1/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Ryan Mathews Given Limited Role vs ChiefsThough Ryan Mathews is thought to be the unquestioned lead back for the San Diego Chargers, he was given a limited role for the majority of Sunday's game against the Chiefs. Mathews touched the ball only five times in the first half, while Jackie Battle handled the bulk of the work early. Chargers' head coach Norv Turner was asked about the situation after the game, and insisted that the team still has "great trust" in Mathews, despite the lessened role, which came on the heels of a costly red-zone fumble in Week 3.

Mathews finished the game with one more touch than Battle, but most of his touches came in garbage time when the Chargers had already locked up the victory and were simply killing the clock. "You ask about the confidence I have in (Mathews)," Turner said. "We're trying to put the game away, and he's the guy handling the ball, so I think that answers the question." Well, it really doesn't. The Chargers were out to a 34-13 lead in the fourth quarter, and backup running backs usually come into the game to run out the clock in those type of blowouts. What makes it even more peculiar is Mathews' lengthy injury history. Usually, you wouldn't want your injury-prone feature back taking unnecessary hits when you already have the game in you pocket.

Turner shook things up even more on Monday, when he stated that Mathews' reduced role had nothing to do with sending a message, and that Jackie Battle simply gave the Chargers the "best chance to win." So Turner's saying that his feature back that he has great trust in isn't the team's best option?

Battle averaged 2.6 yards per carry on Sunday while Mathews averaged 4.4, so it's hard to believe that Turner actually believes what he said. It's more likely that Mathews had done something wrong, such as showing up late to a meeting, and was being disciplined.

My best guess as to why Mathews was playing in garbage time is that the Chargers wanted to keep him in game shape. He had only played in one football game since the team's preseason opener (August 9th), and only had four carries heading into the fourth quarter. Turner probably was trying to get him used to live action so he can more quickly get to mid-season form.

Mathews should return to seeing the bulk of the carries next week against the Saints, and will be likely to have his coming out party against their league-worst run defense. Fantasy owners of Mathews are sure to be fed up with what was likely an early draft pick for them, so it's a great time to buy low before he starts putting up good numbers.
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