AFC West: The Big Question 51110

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Is San Diego rookie tailback Ryan Mathews up to the task of bringing balance back to the Chargers’ offense?

[+] EnlargeRyan Mathews
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesRyan Mathews should give the Chargers reasons to smile this season.
It is only May, and San Diego has just seen Mathews at a rookie minicamp. Still, the team is very pleased with what it has seen of Mathews so far.

Thus, San Diego is thrilled it gave up a bundle of draft picks to move up from No. 28 to No. 12 to snare the Fresno State running back last month. I think there is little doubt that Mathews will be an instant impact player, who should vie for offensive rookie of the year honors. The big, strong Mathews is a perfect fit for the Chargers’ offense. That’s why they gave up a lot to get him.

Expect Mathews to be a big upgrade over the LaDainian Tomlinson of the past two years. Mathews is going to extend some drives, eat clock and -- most important -- take pressure off San Diego’s great passing game. His presence will allow quarterback Philip Rivers and his receiving crew to be more dangerous because defense will have to account for the San Diego ground game.

Last season, San Diego had the No. 31-ranked run offense. Mathews’ presence also will allow change-of-pace back Darren Sproles to stay fresher and remain in the role that best suits him. The addition of Mathews is going to be enormous for San Diego for many reasons.

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