San Diego Chargers Lose Ryan Mathews: Breaking Down RB's Possible Replacements
Luckily for the San Diego Chargers, the team has already formulated a plan to replace the injured Ryan Mathews. The scheme will undoubtedly be a group effort from the likes of Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley and even Le'Ron McClain.
"I like the guys we have here, and I'm excited about what they've been doing, Chargers coach Norv Turner said."
Anytime a team loses its top running back, that squad is going to face some issues while his replacement, or replacements, get acclimated to the heightened amount of playing time. While this will be the case for the Chargers, the learning curve should be shortened due to the Charger's plan to use multiple backs as Mathews' replacement, rather than just one.
Let's take a look at how exactly the Chargers will be replacing Mathews for the four to six weeks he will be sidelined.
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While replacing Mathews will be a group effort, the Chargers will inevitably have to establish one predominant running back. Considering the other options Norv Turner has, expect Ronnie Brown to get that title.
He is the most experienced back the Chargers have with almost 5,000 career rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. Brown was the featured back in Miami for six seasons while battling multiple injuries that slowed him tremendously and only allowed him to play a full 16-game season twice.
Nevertheless, Brown is a skilled back who has a nose for the end zone and should help provide the Chargers with a decent running game while Mathews recovers.
Brown could even serve as the Charger's Wildcat player, as he was the original Wildcat down in Miami when the Dolphins implemented the offense in 2008. Not coincidentally, that was Brown's best statistical year—ending up with 916 yards and a career high 10 touchdowns.
Jackie Battle faced the Chargers last season as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Jackie Battle finds himself in a familiar position right now, as the No. 1 back on his team will be sidelined early in the season once again. Last year, Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the first game of the year and Battle helped fill in—leading the team in rushing.
While Mathews' injury is not nearly as severe, Battle will once again be relied upon to help fill the void. A career backup, Battle has tallied just 715 yards and four TDs in his five-season career.
Battle will get yet another chance to prove his worth to his team while Mathews is sidelined. The Chargers would be ecstatic if he played as well as he did last year in Charles' absence.
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Curtis Brinkley is the most unknown of the newly-deemed three-headed monster in San Diego. He's played in just 13 career games and has totaled 112 yards and just one touchdown.
When he does get his chances, he seemingly always makes a play. Brinkley could fit in very well as the third-down back while Mathews is out, and could even find himself in that role when the Pro Bowler returns to the lineup.
At just 26 years old and with two seasons under his belt, Brinkley will surely mature and develop further this season. Expect to see Brinkley on the field constantly, even after Mathews' return.
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While Le'Ron McClain won't get a lot of carries outside short-yardage situations, he will be very valuable to the Charger's offense. The former Chief will be used on 3rd-and-short to gain key first downs and move the chains.
McClain has played fullback for the majority of his career; however, he did have a breakout season in Baltimore in 2008. The big man has 232 carries that season, ending the year with 902 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Don't expect him to put up those kinds of numbers again, but you can expect him to show up in vital situations. The Chargers are set at fullback with Jacob Hester, but could use the bruising combination of Hester and McClain as a power backfield package in short-yardage situations.
It will be interesting to see how Norv Turner handles the carries of each back on this list. He will likely go with whoever is doing the best each particular Sunday—something that will benefit the Chargers in the long haul.