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Ryan Mathews 'ahead of schedule' for Chargers

Though at least one expert would not have been surprised if San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews could be out until October with a broken clavicle, the 2010 first-round draft pick out of Fresno State has been adamant about being back for the season opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Two weeks from that game, Mathews says he is ahead of schedule in his recovery, Scott Bair of the North County Times reports.

"I'm definitely ahead of schedule," Mathews said. "I've always been a fast healer, and that's proving true right now. My range of motion is improving and I'm feeling really good. I've been staying upbeat about an unfortunate situation, and everything I do right now is about getting healthy. Honestly, I can't wait to get back on the field."

As Bair notes, the Chargers, thin in the backfield after losing Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert to free agency in back-to-back seasons, have struggled in the running game since Mathews was injured on his first carry of the preseason.

Through three games, no Charger has more than 50 yards rushing, and as a team, the Chargers are 31st in rushing yards per game (66.3) and dead last in rushing yards per play (2.4).

The Chargers have been notoriously slow starters under Norv Turner, but that's no reason to rush Mathews back before he's fully ready. Even without Mathews, they can get by the Raiders and a Tennessee Titans team that will have Jake Locker making his first NFL start.

After that, however, the schedule intensifies with games against the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos.

Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.

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