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Ryan Mathews' Bolts depth-chart position irrelevant

We've already done a handful of stories this week on the San Diego Chargers' benching of Ryan Mathews in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 2010 first-round draft pick didn't get a snap on the Chargers' opening drive last week. Jackie Battle, not Mathews, was the primary running back when the game was in doubt. That came after Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said Mathews eventually could become "somebody else's fumbler."

This has Mathews' fantasy owners very worried. (And really, why else would this story be national news?)

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The latest kerfuffle starring Mathews: The Chargers listed Battle as No. 1 on their depth chart. This caused enough panic in San Diego that the team responded to the news.

"He just started last week, so that's why he's there," a team spokesman told U-T San Diego.

Official depth charts during the season mean almost nothing. They reflect the past, not the future. They aren't always accurate. Teams are required to post them, but it's not like Norv Turner is in a midnight meeting deciding who he's going to list as the backup offensive tackle.

Listing Battle as a starter means a lot less than Battle acted as the starter last week and performed well enough. The depth charts are almost as useful as mid-week predictions or promises about playing time. Coaches tell you everything you need to know with the snaps they give out. Last Sunday, Turner sent a loud-and-clear message to Mathews.

We fully anticipate Mathews will get more work this week and eventually become the starter again. It might take another week. It might take a month. It might never happen. Anyone who says they know is lying or they don't know what they don't know.

Turner is the only man who can unravel the mystery. He'll do it with playing time, not words or depth charts.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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