Ryan Mathews Still Not Practicing; Nick Hardwick Returns From Concussion

By Ernie Padaon

Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan  Mathews (24) runs for a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Hardwick has been cleared from his concussion and has joined the team on the practice field today. That is huge news for the Chargers offensive line. Hardwick is a leader on the field and has a lot of trust from the other offensive linemen and players on the field. It looks good for his status on Sunday. He will be a big part of the offensive line’s success on Sunday.

A big question mark is Ryan Mathews. Mathews was still on the sideline for practice, even though Mike McCoy had said that he was on the same practice schedule as he was on in the previous weeks. He had skipped Wednesday and Thursday practices the previous weeks, but was able to re-join the team on Fridays. This time he is still watching. It has to be a concern since Mathews was unable to play much of the second half against the Bengals last week.

Jeromey Clary missed another day of practice with a bad shoulder that he hurt in practice on Monday. If he is unable to practice, Johnnie Troutman would likely step in as the starter. Troutman has had plenty of opportunities as the starter this season and has done fairly well.

Mathews is the biggest question mark and will be the biggest story to watch before the game on Sunday. Will he be able to play on Sunday? If he is unable to play, expect a lot of Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead in the game and expect the offense to get use of them in the passing game. Mathews has had some of his best performances against the Broncos and the team might be trying to keep him off of his ankle for an extra day. That thing must be getting real sore.