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Ryan Mathews Injury Update: Will the San Diego Chargers Running Back Make His Season Debut on Sunday?

By Melissa Siegel - Posted: 09/19/12 10:18PM UTC
Ryan Mathews

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is expected to make his 2012 season debut on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. (Photo: REUTERS / Mike Blake)

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews looked like a potential fantasy star this season after rushing for over 1,000 yards in just 14 games last year. But then Mathews broke his collarbone in his first carry of the preseason, dropping him down draft boards and forcing the Chargers to come up with alternative options at the position.

Mathews returned to practice on a limited basis last week, and there was thought he might suit up against the Tennessee Titans. But Mathews was inactive once again, a product of his lack of practice time during the week, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken.

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But it's looking more and more like the running back with finally make his 2012 season debut on Sunday. Gehlken reported on Twitter that Mathews practiced fully on Wednesday and noted this afternoon that Mathews "is poised" to play on Sunday.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen further confirmed this fact this evening on the ESPN show NFL32.

"I believe they've always targeted week three for this," Mortensen said about Mathews' return.

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San Diego has not suffered too much without Mathews and currently sits as one of only two undefeated teams in the AFC. The Chargers are just 22nd in the league in rushing, however, averaging a mere 90 yards on the ground per game. Against the Oakland Raiders in particular they gained just 32 yards on 20 attempts.

Still, Mathews is clearly the team's best option going forward. However, the team may choose to work him back a bit slowly, especially after reserve back Jackie Battle averaged nearly five yards per carry last week against the Tennessee Titans.

Mathews faces a solid matchup this week against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have allowed an average of 135 yards rushing per game, 25th in the league.

In the following two weeks, he faces the Chiefs, the 27th-ranked rushing defense in the league, and the New Orleans Saints, currently the worst rushing defense in the league. The Saints are allowing an average of 186 yards per game on the ground, though some of that may be a result of the two running quarterbacks they have faced so far this season.

Still, the time is right to start Mathews in your fantasy leagues. He may not give you big numbers right away, but he should be a solid contributor for you down the line.

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