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Mathews hopes to last past 16 games this year

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- Running back Ryan Mathews is coming off his best season. Too bad that doesn't include the post-season.

The Chargers rode Mathews hard last year down the stretch, leaning on him during a four-game winning streak that propelled them into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

But Mathews had a balky ankle in the post-season that all but negated the team's top runner.

"It was hard not being able to finish the year out," Mathews said at the Chargers' minicamp. "Sixteen games is 16 games and that's what everyone wants to do, is play a whole season.

"But I really wasn't able to contribute in the games after the season, and those are the real games where it counts. And that is where my expectations are this year

"I got to do more and do better so I can be there with my guys, so I can help them out as much as I can when we get there again."

Mathews, a former first-round pick, had a breakout season in rushing for a career-high 1,255 yards, the eighth-highest total in franchise history.

In six games, Mathews went past the 100-yard mark, including a career-high 144 yards in the season-finale.

Mathews goes into this season with confidence, a healthy ankle and some company in the backfield after the Chargers signed free-agent Donald Brown to complement Danny Woodhead and Mathews.

"It's great; it's another weapon to the offense and he is a great player," Mathews said. "You see all the great things he did up with the Colts."

But what about ball distribution?

"Everybody wants the ball; you're a running back, you want the ball," Mathews said. "But there is only one ball in the game and we all have to take turns.

"We're all competing against each other every day and we're all striving to make each other better. We have three different backs that do three different things with three different running styles.

--Strong safety Brandon Taylor was released. Taylor was the 73rd pick of the 2012 draft and played in four games with one start his rookie season. He was inactive for all the games last season.

--Coach Mike McCoy ended the three-day minicamp a day earlier. "I'm pleased where we are right now," McCoy said.

--The Chargers open training camp at Chargers Park on July 24. The team doesn't have any joint practices scheduled with other teams.

--Free-agent cornerback Brandon Flowers is on the Chargers' radar and has made a visit.

--Cornerback Jason Verrett, the team's top pick, said he'll be healed from his offseason shoulder surgery to compete for a role in training camp.

--The Chargers incorporated music throughout much of their minicamp practices. Much of it was hip-hop and rock tunes, which had some asking if the tunes were lifted from quarterback Philip Rivers' iPod. "I don't have an iPod," Rivers said. Is he an eight-track guy? "No," he said, "AM-FM."

--San Diego State coach Rocky Long took in the Chargers' last minicamp session. "Man, they're big and fast," Long said.

--With right guard Jeromey Clary sidelined, Johnnie Troutman has been running with the first team.

--Wide receiver Malcolm Floyd, back from a serious neck injury, has been going with the starters opposite of Keenan Allen. When the Chargers go into a three-wide formation, Eddie Royal is in the slot.

--Rookie wide receiver Tevin Reese has been sharing return duties with Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal.

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