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San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl Runner Ryan Mathews Does Not Have To Go

When on the field, Ryan Mathews is a problem for defenses.
When on the field, Ryan Mathews is a problem for defenses.Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Ian PhilipAnalyst IIIAugust 21, 2012

Ryan Mathews rolled to a Pro Bowl appearance and nearly five yards per carry last season for the San Diego Chargers, but there are some fans who feel that he needs to go.

Those fans are nuts, but you can understand their frustration. 

If Mathews doesn't make good on his promise to return by the start of the season, he'll have missed at least one game in his last six seasons going back to his college career.

He's as fragile as Fred Taylor was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Many people would agree that he has not even come close to replacing Charger great LaDainian Tomlinson yet.

Here's the thing, Tomlinson had a run of ill health that struck him in five of his last six seasons in San Diego. The notable exception being the 2006 season.

Tomlinson didn't miss any games, but was considerably slowed in quite a few games and completely ineffective in the playoffs at times.

Mathews has missed six of a possible 32 games in his career, but has come back at full strength every time.

The difference is, the coaching staff feels comfortable telling Mathews to have a seat. Tomlinson earned the right to dictate to the team that he was going to play whether it made sense or not. Injuries lingered an entire season for Tomlinson, not so with Mathews.

Tomlinson's sterling reputation took a hit when he attempted to play through a serious knee injury to no avail in the 2007 AFC Championship Game. Mathews' reputation has taken a hit because he's not been allowed to play through injuries.


Tomlinson is selfish for not being able to play running back on an injured knee. Mathews is fragile for not being allowed to play on an injured knee by the coaching staff. Either way, the guy is toast on the Internet, so the team might as well do the smart thing and force Mathews to sit out until he's 100 percent.

Mathews has proven that he's injury-prone, but recovers very quickly and does damage to defenses when he's on the field. The Chargers would be wise to seek out another player with skills similar to Mathews to fill in when he is inevitably injured. At this point, it is going to happen.

The Jaguars drafted Maurice Jones-Drew to work with Fragile Fred, and it worked out marvelously. When Fred was down, Jones-Drew kept chugging along.

The Chargers would be well served by finding a partner in crime for Mathews in next year's draft. After all, as he gets older, he won't recover so quickly.

For now, that role falls to Ronnie Brown (should be Curtis Brinkley), but at 30, he's no long-term solution.

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