We now have a better idea why Ryan Mathews finished both his playoff games this month as a spectator.
U-T San Diego reported Monday that the San Diego Chargers running back was attempting to play through a high ankle sprain. The injury typically comes with a recovery timetable of four to six weeks. Mathews didn't miss one game.
"It was tough," Mathews said Monday. "I wanted to be out there every play just to help them."
Mathews sat out the second half of Sunday's divisional round loss to the Denver Broncos. A week earlier, Mathews exited in the third quarter of a wild-card win over the Cincinnati Bengals and did not return.
Mathews originally injured the ankle against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 22. He played the next week and set a career high with 144 yards on 24 carries in a playoff-clinching win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The injury worsened with time, however. He sat out practice all last week and finished with five uneventful carries Sunday. The loss was felt by the Chargers, who had carved out an identity late in the season leaning on Mathews and Danny Woodhead in a ball-control attack.