San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken clavicle suffered in Thursday's win over the Green Bay Packers. While he heals, the team's stable of backs will be asked to fill the void.
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Coach Norv Turnertold Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego he is satisfied with the depth behind Mathews and won't pursue free-agent help, which means the offense will lean heavily on veteran Ronnie Brown for the remainder of the preseason and beyond.
Turner confirmed Mathews was already undergoing surgery while the coach met with reporters, and the team is quietly optimistic the third-year back will be ready for the Monday night season launch against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 10.
"If everything goes exactly the way we'd like, (Mathews) might be available for the opener," Turner told the team's official site on Thursday. "He's worked so hard."
It's not what San Diego had in mind and despite Turner's sunny outlook on Brown's abilities, the Chargers don't have much talent lined up behind Mathews, who has been nagged by injuries throughout his short career. Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley will see increased snaps with Mathews out, but we expect the weight to fall on Philip Rivers and the passing game.
If Mathews is delayed in his recovery, a free-agent back becomes more enticing after Week 1, when Turner and Co. wouldn't have to guarantee money to incoming help.