San Diego Chargers' Rookie Ryan Mathews Still Not at Camp

Randy VillarbaContributor IJuly 29, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Running back Ryan Mathews of Fresno State runs during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

There have been four days since the San Diego Chargers have opened preseason camp and Ryan Mathews is still not reporting. San Diego and Mathews were still locked in negotiations as training camp began this week. Granted, it is not a full camp, as Monday marked the day that rookies and selected veterans started practicing.

The first full team squad practice begins Friday and Mathews' contract will probably not be signed by tomorrow.

The Fresno State running back was the 12th pick overall in the 2010 Draft and remains the Chargers' only draft pick left unsigned. While it is certainly nothing new for the Chargers to have their top draft pick in camp by the times rookies report, it is pretty nerve racking for San Diego as they are looking to start the Post-Tomlinson Era with Mathews making a large part of those blueprints. The anticipation for Chargers staff and fans alike is heavy.

"I like the young guys to be here," said head coach Norv Turner. "I'm anxious for Ryan to get here. He knows it's important to get here. There were three or four things that came up today that I would have liked to have him see. So yeah, he's missing things. Those things he can make up, also."

The day after the Chargers tied up Antonio Gates with the largest contract ever offered to a tight end, the groundwork begins to tie up the running back that is expected to handle a decent amount of touches this year.

Mathews, his agent, and general manager A.J. Smith continue to remain silent in regards to negotiations. Chargers fans can only hope that it will be concluded soon. The Spanos' wealth is vast; something that the Gates contract makes evident.

Gates agreed to a $36.175 million, five-year contract extension, with $20.4 million guaranteed. The deal averages $7.235 million per season from 2011-15.

Not having Mathews signed continues a stretch of negotiating woes for Smith and San Diego. Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill are also missing training camp and possibly more. They haven't been signed to long-term deals and are looking to miss the first 10 games of the season, at the least.

The Chargers don't appear close to signing Mathews. Mathews missed three practices for rookies and select veterans, with coach Turner cancelling today's practice.

Asked for an update on negotiations, Turner said: "You've got the wrong guy. I'm like you. Just let me know when it's done."