The Chargers seem to have made themselves less dependent on RB Ryan Mathews, who was the offense's MVP last year.
And that should bode well for both them and Mathews, 26.
In the months since a game but gimpy Mathews sat out most of the Division Playoff loss at Denver, Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy have added three running backs to the 53-man roster while also retaining third-down specialist Danny Woodhead and subtracting Ronnie Brown. Giving the run game another dimension, Telesco signed David Johnson, a fullback-tight end noted for his blocking.
We'll see how long rookie backs Marion Grice and Branden Oliver will stay on the active roster behind another Telesco addition, Donald Brown, the ex-Colt who averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year. The kids look they could help in a pinch, but other roster moves this week could affect one of them.
At any rate, it made sense to give Mathews more cushion. As terrific as he was last year, overcoming a concussion and ankle sprain, powering the team's late run into the playoffs and never missing a start, it would’ve been foolish to be as dependent on him this year.
The plan seems to be to ride Mathews on occasion but it really seems like the team wants to ease his workload to keep him healthy down the stretch for a possible playoff run. It's not the first time we heard this, as similar reports were out even before camp. That likely means more work for Brown and Woodhead. Mathews had just two, 20-plus carry games through Dec. 1 last year, but the final four weeks of the season went 29-29-25-24 and wasn't able to get over a high ankle sprain. Look for the Bolts to keep Mathews in the 13-19 range, which is where he was for most of the September-November.