San Diego Chargers have options in replacing Ryan Mathews

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers will give several running backs a chance to replace last season's leading rusher, Ryan Mathews, who had surgery Friday on his broken collarbone and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

"I like the guys we have here, and I'm excited about what they've been doing," Chargers coach Norv Turner said.

Mathews was injured on his first carry of the preseason, in the first quarter of the Chargers' game against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, and he didn't return.

Mathews led the Chargers with 1,091 rushing yards and a 4.9-yard average last season, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Entering training camp last month, Turner said Mathews was in the best shape of his career and should pile up bigger carry and scoring numbers this season because he'd get additional snaps near the goal line.

"That play could have happened on his 360th carry or his first carry," Turner said. "Ryan'll come back healthy. He's on his way to having a great season. I don't think this will deter that."

Turner said several backs, including Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley, will play in the three remaining preseason games.

Brown and Battle are veterans who joined the Chargers in recent months. Brinkley is in his third year with the Chargers, having averaged 3.5 yards in 32 career carries.

"We have backs in here who are capable of playing and playing at a high level," Turner said. "This league is crazy. You have guys who have an opportunity when somebody gets hurt and they make the most of it."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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