San Diego Chargers: Will Ryan Mathews Be the Feature Back in 2013?

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Correspondent IIDecember 19, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 16: Ryan Matthews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs the ball against the Carolina Panthers on December 16, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers placed running back Ryan Mathews on injured reserve Tuesday, officially ending his season after he suffered a broken collarbone in a 31-7 home loss to the Carolina Panthers Sunday.

It was the second broken collarbone of the season for Mathews, who missed the first two games of the season as well. In his three years in the league, he has yet to play a full season.

Mathews has played well when he's on the field, but his injury issues are making him somewhat of a liability going forward.

With the Chargers set to shake up their front office as well as their coaching staff, how much of that will trickle down to the players?

On the season, Mathews ran for 707 yards on 184 carries, but scored just one touchdown. He also hauled in 39 passes for another 252 yards and through 38 career games, he has a 4.4 yard per carry average.

Mathews' play hasn't been the problem... his health has, raising the question of how long the Chargers will stick with him as their starting running back. They definitely don't have another running back on the current roster capable of being a full-time starter, with Jackie Battle, Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley as their only other options.

It's a good possibility that the Chargers' new regime will look in a different direction this offseason. Players such as Reggie Bush and Rashard Mendenhall will both be free agents, but they could also make a move in the draft.

Mathews can still be a serviceable running back in the NFL, but due to his inability to stay healthy, his future looks to be more of a rotational player rather than a guy who will be depended on to carry the ball 20-25 times a game.

Mathews was the 12th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft and will still be under the high-dollar first-round contract he signed that year, but that shouldn't stop the Chargers from pursuing a player who can be more reliable and in turn, more productive at the position.

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