While aware that the demands of a football season will be plentiful, Doug Pederson confronted a fresh one two weeks ago in Dallas. That’s when Ryan Mathews could barely squeeze into a particularly useful piece of equipment.
“He couldn’t put his helmet on,” Pederson said Sunday. “Then he had root canal the next day. So we kept with Darren Sproles for a couple of weeks. But Ryan was still a part of the bigger picture.”
For the combination of his size and the position in his career, Mathews figured to be the Birds’ most reliable running back option. With DeMarco Murray gone, Wendell Smallwood a rookie and the 5-6 Sproles an unorthodox threat, the 29-year-old Mathews, a former Pro Bowl back, was viewed as critical.
Mathews reported the toothache before the Birds lost in Dallas, where managed just four carries. And last week, he ran just five times in a loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands. During those two weeks, Sproles got the bulk of the work. Now recovered from the surgery and relieved of the pain, Mathews rushed 19 times Sunday in the Eagles’ 24-15 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles running game has been a big headache for fantasy owners and at times has been a four-headed monster. Now one has to wonder with Mathews' tooth problems behind him, does he go back to being the primary ball carrier. Sproles becomes a risky play at least in standard leagues if he's not going to get 12-15 carries a game.