The San Diego Chargers signed their first-round draft pick, running back Ryan Mathews to a five-year deal worth $25.65 million with slightly more than $15 million being in guaranteed money.
Early reports had stated that Mathews may not be available for the Chargers first full pad practice, however that report would be dispelled as he was an instant contributor during San Diego's afternoon workout at Chargers Park on Sunday.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, wearing a festive Hawaiian shirt and black dress slacks was on hand to watch his newly signed running back participate in rushing drills and full team scrimmages.
While practicing with the first-team offense, Mathews made some really impressive runs up the middle for some large gains.
He looked incredibly explosive out of the backfield, and it was very noticeable that he was amped to be out on the field practicing with his new teammates.
Mathews did make himself available for autographs to some of the 3,500 eager Chargers fans (including myself) waiting to get a glimpse of their team's new running back who attended Sunday's afternoon practice. He was then whisked away while still wearing his pads to start what would probably be seemingly-endless media interviews.
The 12th pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft does have some mighty big shoes to fill.
San Diego moved up 16 spots to draft Mathews, to replace the aging LaDainian Tomlinson at running back.
Tomlinson who was released by the Chargers in the offseason has found a revival of sorts with the high-powered offense of the New York Jets.
Mathews does have strong expectations to live up to. He will be looked at to help jumpstart a Chargers running game that was last in rushing yards in 2009.
In three seasons at Fresno State, Mathews rushed for 3,280 yards and averaging 6.1 yards per carry, he also set a school record with 39 touchdowns.
He will be looking to continue the run production he endured last season as a junior where he rushed for 100 yards against three Top 25 teams, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, and Boise State where he ran for 234 yards, scoring on runs of 69, 60 and 68 yards.
Now with the Mathews under contract, it will be interesting to see how fast he develops into an NFL running back.
However, this might be something that a holdout could have completely derailed.
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