Earlier in the week, the Chargers officially put Ryan Mathews on notice, in a very public way, over the third-year back's fumbling issues. These were general manager AJ Smith's mid-week comments, via the San Diego Union-Tribune:
"Extremely talented players like Ryan get multiple opportunities to improve," Smith continued. "What happens to fumblers is, first, they play less. Second, if it continues while they're playing on a limited basis, then you don't play for a while and you get to sit and think about it.
"Third, when you get the call to go back on the field and the fumbling continues, then you will be somebody else's fumbler."
Mathews has already put the ball on the ground 11 times in 27 career NFL games, losing six. So it appears the Chargers have moved to the "play less" phase of the fumble protocol.
On Sunday, Mathews didn't play a snap on San Diego's opening possession. Jackie Battle dominated the backfield touches as the Chargers marched 76 yards for a score. Mathews was involved on his team's second series (two touches, nine yards), but Battle took over again on San Diego's next possession, crossing the goal line on a one-yard plunge.
As of this writing, with 11:14 on the clock in the second quarter, Battle has 10 touches for 53 yards and a TD. Mathews has four for 11 and no scores.
Uh-oh. If you're a Mathews owner, it's well past time to panic. If you're anyone with a fantasy team, it's time to put in a claim on Battle. This might just be Mike Tolbert 2.0.
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- Jackie Battle