Running back Ryan Mathews hasn't always produced at the level the San Diego Chargers expected when they traded up to select him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Mathews has struggled with consistency, injuries, fumbles, and has admittedly fallen short of what expected from the player chosen to replace a legend like LaDainian Tomlinson.
Unfortunately, Mathews' struggles have occurred in the Twitter era, and he's been the subject of the most vile criticisms on social media, which he shared with Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
"I’ve had people say they hope me and my mom get AIDS and die," Mathews said on Wednesday.
Seriously people, get a grip.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to fill LT’s shoes," Mathews said. "I was trying to live up to those expectations — what he was doing in his prime, all the yards he’s getting, all the touchdowns he’s getting, just trying to live up to that.
"I knew I was the first-round pick, (the Chargers) moved up (16) spots and all that, and I was just trying to do more than what I should have been doing. I think I took all the fun out of it and stressed myself out over it."
While Mathews has been a fairly pedestrian NFL running back, he hasn't been that bad. Mathews has averaged 4.4 yards per carry during his career, totaling 2,476 and 14 touchdowns with 111 receptions for 852 yards out of the backfield. In 2011, Mathews went over 1,000 yards and was sixth in Football Outsiders' DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) metric.
According to Acee, Mathews is leaner entering this season and plans to get back to what he was doing at Fresno State.
"I’m just gonna be myself," said Mathews. "In practice, I’m just trying to focus on what I do. I’m not trying to focus on what would (Tomlinson) do? I’m just gonna go back to like I was playing at Fresno State — just running the ball catching the ball and scoring touchdowns."
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