San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert was involved in a scary hit against the Cincinnati Bengals where Tolbert left the field on a stretcher. Tolbert was diagnosed with a neck sprain and a bruised shoulder and will not be available to play against the Denver Broncos in the season finale.
“If someone is not physically capable of going and it puts them in jeopardy, then we’ll make a wise decision. But we’re going to go play the football game to win.” – Norv Turner
This will give rookie running back Ryan Mathews the opportunity to showcase his talents and give hope to the future. When we drafted Mathews, I felt that we had the next rookie of the year and that he would live up to the hype. I thought he would take the torch from Ladainian Tomlinson and open up a new era in Chargers football.
We then opened up the season in Kansas City and Mathews struggled with ball security and confidence. The next week, we faced Jacksonville and he suffered an ankle injury that slowed him during the season and opened up the opportunity for Tolbert. Tolbert played well as a starter and more carries were given to him for the rest of the season.
Mathews has not lived up to the hype yet, but he still shows flashes of the potential. Mathews only was able to get 20 carries in the opening game of the season. He will be given back that opportunity to be the main back this week and can showoff his talents.
From his 11 games this season, we know that he has good balance, can break tackles and has speed to be defenders to the outside. We also know that he will fight for the extra yards, which will cause him to fumble the ball. He needs work with his pass catching skills and he needs to pass protect better. He has not been able to break off the long run YET, but he is getting very close.
The extended playing time this week will be huge in his development. Let’s see what the kid can do!
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