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Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Chargers running backs strong after contact

By Bill Williamson

The San Diego Chargers have a chance to punish defenses if they can keep running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert healthy.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the duo leads the AFC West with the most yardage after contact. While Tolbert leads the division with 53.3 percent of his rushing yards coming after contact, Mathews is a close second with 52.1 percent of his yardage after contact. It is also worth noting that Mathews has more than twice as many rushing yards this season as Tolbert. Both have had substantial carries, however, with Tolbert at 66 and Mathews at 111.

Injuries have hampered both players this season, perhaps because they embrace contact. Mathews missed the Chargers’ loss to Green Bay. The team is hopeful he can play Thursday against Oakland.

A couple of other players stand out. Kansas City running back Jackie Battle has shown he is solid in this area. He has 49.7 percent of his yardage coming after contact and has emerged as the Chiefs’ lead back after Jamaal Charles’ season-ending knee injury.

Injured Oakland running back Darren McFadden is last in the AFC West with 29.8 percent of his yardage coming after the contact. I think a lot of it has to do with McFadden having several long runs.

Here is the list of the eligible (per amounts of carries) AFC West leaders in this category. Thanks again to ESPN Stats & Information.