Chargers RB Ryan Mathews has not played since a Sept. 14 contest against the Seattle Seahawks because of an MCL knee sprain. It’s probably unfair to expect Mathews to carry the ball that many times in his first game back. However, with Mathews expected to return to the field on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and running back coach Ollie Wilson will be working closely with the team’s training staff to gauge how Mathews is handling his workload during the game.
Ultimately head coach Mike McCoy has final say. Chargers head trainer James Collins has been closely monitoring Mathews during practice, making sure there’s no setback in his rehabilitation process.
"We have to find out how much he’s ready to take," Reich said. "And that starts with us at the head coaching level. The trainers and Ollie and I have kind of talked about getting a feel for him during the game, and how much he can go, and that’s Ryan being honest with us.
"But he’s a big time player on this team. We want him to play as much as he can, but we want to be smart about it as well."
We’re not expecting he'll immediately get the 17.8 carries he averaged in 2013, but he should be good for 12-16 touches if things go well. Branden Oliver should take over the Danny Woodhead role in the offense, and is a capable runner in his own right.