Jackie Battle was a serviceable option at tailback for the Chargers when Ryan Mathews was hurt. Now that Mathews is healthy, Battle is a questionable option — but he's still Norv Turner's top choice.
Battle started for the Chargers against the Chiefs on Sunday and was getting a majority of the early work. Battle got six of the Chargers' first seven rushing attempts as they built a 17-0 lead — and Battle scored a touchdown.
Battle had a nondescript first five seasons with the Chiefs to start his career, then came to the Chargers in the offseason. But his promotion is much more about Mathews going into the doghouse.
San Diego general manager A.J. Smith threatened to send Mathews packing over his fumbling problems, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune he could "be somebody else's fumbler." Mathews has 11 fumbles in his career, and he's in just his second season. But plenty of teams would probably love to take Smith up on his offer to dump Mathews, whom the Chargers envisioned as LaDainian Tomlinson's replacement just a year ago.
The Chargers did follow through with their threat and benched Mathews against the Chiefs. While Battle played pretty well when Mathews was out early this season with a broken clavicle, the San Diego offense is not going to be as good with Mathews nailed to the bench. Battle is a good backup, but nothing in his NFL career shows he can be a lead tailback for a good team. Mathews does have that dynamic talent, but isn't going to use it from the sideline.
The best-case scenario for the Chargers is that Mathews figures out his fumbling problem and the team doesn't take a stubborn stance with its former first-round pick.
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