Ryan Mathews Injury: Is Fragile Back Long-Term Answer for San Diego Chargers?

Kevin AbblittCorrespondent IIIAugust 15, 2012

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

The offensive system thriving for the San Diego Chargers will now have to resort to a "Cerberus" style of play.

Le’Ron McClain will help roll out the red carpet for Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley. With Ryan Mathews sidelined for the remainder of the preseason and possibly the early weeks of the regular season (via ESPN), this trio will look to cover the lost ground.

This is nothing the Chargers haven't seen before.

Mathews earned himself a trip to Hawaii following his sophomore success in 2011 after he clipped the 1,000-yard benchmark. He racked up 1,091 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

His versatility has made him a force, but inconsistency due to injuries has kept him from truly breaking out. Still, Mathews is certainly capable of living up to his 2012 hype.

From the start, the Chargers had an eye on Mathews. They jumped up 16 spots in the 2010 draft to nab the Fresno State standout with the 12th pick in the first round.

Seemingly poised for a breakout year, hopefully Mathews' 2012 season isn't stunted by this latest setback. He is in the prime of his career, and the Bolts have invested their faith in him as their franchise player.

With a solid supporting cast at his side, the Chargers will have a well-balanced running game in 2012 if Mathews can stay healthy.

Mathews' explosive running style makes him special, but he may need to tone it down if he wants to achieve any sort of longevity. Step away from the Tiki Barber film session and step into Mr. LaDainian Tomlinson’s office. The sideline is your friend—use it.

If Mathews can adapt to slightly altering his rushing approach by stepping out of bounds every so often,   he could tack on years to his playing career.

No. 24 is a lucid back with limitless potential. Hopefully, he will champion the brunt of the load in the signature powder blues until he is set to retire.