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Ryan Mathews vs Jackie Battle: Latest Depth Chart News Around Chargers' RBs

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers rushes up field against pressure from linebacker Derrick Johnson #56 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter on September 30, 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  San Diego defeated Kansas City 37-20.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIOctober 3, 2012

San Diego Chargers running backs Ryan Mathews and Jackie Battle are still fighting for the starting job in the backfield, although Mathews was pegged as the starter following his return from injury.

Currently, Battle is listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart.

The 29-year-old went undrafted out of Houston in 2007, but proved he could be productive in the NFL last season when he averaged four yards per carry on 149 attempts for the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2012, he is part of a crew of running backs who were expected to fill Mathews’ position as he recovered from a broken collarbone.

Battle outperformed both Curtis Brinkley and Ronnie Brown in the early part of the year, and he has held on to the starting job, even though Mathews has been active for the last two games.

In the first week of the season, Battle did not receive any action. In the past three weeks, however, he picked up 163 yards on 32 carries and scored three times. He also caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.

During Mathews’ only two games this season, he gained 105 yards on 24 carries while catching seven passes for 53 yards. The former first-round pick does not have a touchdown in 2012.

Mathews returned against the Atlanta Falcons and received 10 carries compared to just three for Battle. Despite this, Battle gained 55 yards while Mathews totaled just 44. Mathews also fumbled the ball in the red zone, continuing a worrisome trend in his career. 

This prompted Chargers general manager A.J. Smith to say, “I am very concerned, and it has to stop. I believe you can improve in ball security. And no one works any harder in trying to get better than Ryan. However, if it continues he will play less,” via Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The following week, Mathews carried the ball 14 times for 61 yards, while Battle’s number was called 15 times for 39 yards.

As a team, San Diego ranks 17th in the NFL in rushing yards, and sits at 24th in yards per attempt.

Check back to this page for updates on the Chargers’ backfield going forward.  

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