Ryan Mathews: Running Back's Updated Status Makes Him a Fantasy Must-Start

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor ISeptember 22, 2012

Mathews is ready to play.
Mathews is ready to play.Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers have been eagerly awaiting the return of their star running back. Ryan Mathews broke his clavicle and has been inactive for the first two games of 2012.

It appears that is going to change for their Week 3 matchup against another 2-0 team.

Mathews is currently listed as questionable for Sunday, as shared by several sources on Twitter:

Chargers declared RB Ryan Mathews as questionable for Sunday.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 21, 2012

NFL.com states that Matthews "has a great chance to play despite being listed as questionable."

Mathews was a full participant at practice this week, starting with Tuesday's activities, according to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com. Per Henne's report, after Tuesday's practice the Pro Bowl running back said: “I feel great, healthy and strong. They know what I can do and I’m ready.”

The Atlanta Falcons visit San Diego on Sunday and have been known for their tough defense. But AFC West teams have been able to find room to run on the Falcons early in the 2012 season.

Mathews should be able to improve on the 87 yards gained by Jamaal Charles in Week 1. Willis McGahee did just that on Monday night, picking up 113 yards on 22 carries with a pair of touchdowns against Atlanta.

While Mathews' status is still a bit uncertain, he had a good week of practice. It would be surprising to see him not be an active part of the offense on Sunday.

Norv Turner spoke about what he expects from Mathews when he returns to the field (via Chargers.com):

[Matthews have] grown as a player and a person. I think he's a better player right now than he was at the end of the season a year ago. He's had outstanding work since we started working with him last Wednesday. I expect him to come in and play at a high level.

Turner also stated Mathews had a tough week of practice and the team wanted to see how he felt on Saturday prior to making a decision about Sunday.

Stay connected for a final update on Mathews, but all signs are pointing to him being on the active roster.

He could have a breakout performance in his first game of the 2012 season.