Ryan Mathews Injury: Absence of Feature Back Won't Derail Chargers' Season

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVAugust 11, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium on December 18, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Ravens 34-14.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers received some brutal news after their first preseason game of 2012. According to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, running back Ryan Mathews will be out four to six weeks with a broken clavicle. 

However, the bad news from Southern California will only be a minor speed bump in the Chargers' season. It won't doom Norv Turner's squad.

This team has been a passing team in recent years, and it will be for the foreseeable future. Despite the struggles from star quarterback Philip Rivers in 2011, the Chargers are poised to right their wrongs in the passing game.

Even though they lost one of their top targets, Vincent Jackson, by way of free agency, San Diego did a good job of bolstering its receiving core with the acquisitions of Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal.

Meachem brings big-play potential to the outside, as he did with Drew Brees in his time with New Orleans. His new QB, Rivers, has proven to be one of the most gutsy gunners in the league. His long balls will find Meachem early and often this season.

Returning starter Malcolm Floyd had a big year in 2011. He boasts a similar deep threat to defenses. He and Meachem will have no trouble going up against safeties. 

Though the passing game will be the main force that keeps the Chargers relevant in the AFC West, they'll have to pick up the slack in the running game to keep enough balance to throw off defensive schemes. 

Bringing in Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown was huge for San Diego's front office, and they're patting themselves on the back for doing so after this early injury. Brown saw career-low numbers in Philadelphia last season, but much of that was attributed to the solid play of LeSean McCoy. Brown is poised for a comeback season and should see an increased workload with Mathews out. 

By the end of the preseason, expect Brown to emerge as the Chargers' starter until Mathews returns.

Mathews has had a tendency to bounce back better than ever after injuries. He should be able to do the same in 2012 with an injury that should ideally only keep him out of the first two games.

Fortunately for the Chargers, they'll face off in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders. Rivers should be able to carve up the Raiders defense and get their season off to the right start.


Steven Cook is a TNT Breaking News writer for Bleacher Report and a Featured Columnist. Follow him on Twitter.