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Mathews Ready to be the Main RB in the Bolts Offense in 2012

When the Chargers let Mike Tolbert go to Carolina in free agency and didn’t replace him with a prominent back as complement to third-year man Ryan Mathews, that sent the message about Mathews’ role to the team loud and clear.

“At that moment, I knew I’d be the guy,” Mathews said according to Peter King of “Coach Turner’s coached a lot of great backs,” Mathews told me the other day. “He’s told me I remind him of Ricky Williams, which is the kind of back I would like to be. In college [Fresno State] I was a workhorse back. I believe I can do that here. My training has really improved, and I’ve set high standards for myself. I shouldn’t come off the field at all this year.”

That would mean Mathews, who has had 72 catches combined in his first two years, could have that many this season alone. If he plays on most third downs, particularly with Philip Rivers needing to throw hot because he could be under duress early if the new-look line struggles, Mathews could approach 400 touches. He’ll have to be better with ball security after fumbling 10 times in the last two years. “I’ve been working a lot on that,” he said. He’d better be. “I really think this year’s my time,” Mathews said. “I see myself as one of the top backs in the league. Now I’ve got to go out and do it.”

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