Ryan Mathews: Chargers Must Keep Stud RB Active vs. Raiders

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Ryan Mathews: Chargers Must Keep Stud RB Active vs. Raiders
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken clavicle suffered on his first carry of the preseason Aug. 9, San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has returned to practice and gotten some individual drills in, though he's yet to be cleared for contact.

Mathews is making his case to see action against the Raiders Monday, as he explained to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Everything is good. I have full motion in my arm and everything. I have no pain or anything, so it's good.

I'm very hopeful. I really am. I still got a whole week left to go, so we'll see how everything goes.

You just got to be confident about it. I think if you're sulking around, just basically feeling sorry for yourself, everything takes longer. You've got to have that mindset that you're going to get back as soon as possible.

Mathews is talking a good game, but ultimately the decision whether he plays or not lies with the team's medical staff and head coach Norv Turner.

So that begs the question: Will Ryan Mathews play on Monday night against the Oakland Raiders?

The Chargers don't know. Mathews doesn't know. Nobody knows, and that includes the Raiders.

But why not let them think that he might?

San Diego isn't required to release their official injury report until Thursday. When it does finally come out, Mathews should be listed as doubtful.

That doesn't mean he won't play, only that he probably won't play.

When they have to submit their final update 50 minutes prior to the game, bump him up to questionable—maybe he'll play, maybe he won't.

Keep the Raiders guessing.

When the team takes the field, have Mathews trot out in full uniform.

Keep the Raiders guessing.

With Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley behind Mathews on the depth chart, the Chargers have two backs that can handle the load should Mathews not take the field. Personally, there's no chance I'm letting him get into the game.

But it's not about whether he plays—it's about misdirection.

It's about keeping the Raiders on their toes and perhaps gaining an added advantage over their division rivals.

Always keep them guessing. It's a strategy that never fails.

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