Ryan Mathews Injury: Chargers RB Reportedly Breaks Clavicle in Preseason Game

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18:   Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs through tackles for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during their NFL Game on December 18, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Ryan Mathews' 2012 season is shrouded in uncertainty after leaving San Diego's preseason opener with a shoulder injury following his first carry.

U-T San Diego beat writer Michael Gehlken shed more disappointing details regarding the injury to the Chargers' ball-carrier:

Ryan Mathews suffered broken clavicle. Out 4 to 6 weeks.

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 10, 2012

This is disheartening information for Mathews and for Charger faithful. After clearing the 1,000-yards and scoring six touchdowns in 2011, Mathews was expected to take his game to new heights in 2012.

Losing four-to-six weeks off of the season doesn't necessarily dash all hopes of success, but it's not the way anyone wants to start their season. His team will have to weather the storm in his stead, and he will have to be ready to contribute immediately when he returns.

With Mathews out of the lineup, San Diego will likely turn to veteran ball-carrier Ronnie Brown. Brown is a former 1,000-yard rusher, but he's not a top-shelf starter. He was brought in to backup Mathews and provide stability in the backfield, but now he will have to shoulder a much larger load.

This isn't unfamiliar territory for Mathews. He's been banged up throughout his young NFL career, and it's the only tangible argument against naming him an "elite" rushing talent. He has all of the physical tools necessary to succeed, but you have to be on the field for those to matter.

Injuries are never good news, but this isn't a death sentence. It will be important for Mathews to make a swift recovery and more important for him to stay on the field once he returns.

He may not have enough time this season to earn a second-consecutive 1,000-yard campaign, but he can still salvage a solid season.