Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
With Ryan Mathews scheduled to take on a heavier workload in 2012, the third-year running back may finally live up to the hype that unofficially dubbed him LaDainian Tomlinson's replacement.
But with great power comes great responsibility, and that means better ball control for a guy who has fumbled five times in each of his last two seasons.
On paper, Mathews has shown a definite improvement in his game since his rookie season. On the field, Mathews looks even better as he hits the hole with power and blazing speed.
So, what's the big deal about this season?
For starters, this will be the first season Mathews takes the field without a legitimate No. 2 behind him. The Chargers have some young backs waiting in the ranks, but none of them have truly proved they're ready to contribute in the running game. The addition of Ronnie Brown is intriguing, but there are a lot of doubts if he can get anywhere close to the success he had with the Miami Dolphins in his younger years.
On the other hand, this is also the first season Mathews will have a true fullback leading the way in the ground game. Le'Ron McClain helped clear the path for another youngster in Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. That worked out pretty well last time I checked.
Remember when Lorenzo Neal cleared the way for Tomlinson back in the day? Another perfect match.