RYAN MATHEWS, Running back
The Chargers made a bold move to get Mathews in the 2010 draft, trading up 16 spots to select him 12th overall. The Fresno State star was supposed to immediately fill the shoes of iconic running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who was released after the '09 season. That plan faltered when a right-ankle injury and a tendency to fumble limited Mathews's contribution. He finished the season with 678 yards and seven scores to rank behind undrafted teammate Mike Tolbert, who had 735 yards and 11 TDs.
This season Turner is counting on Mathews to step up and help fill the void on passing and third downs created by running back Darren Sproles's departure to New Orleans. Turner anticipates Mathews picking up many of the carries in those situations, but he also feels comfortable relying on Tolbert and fullback Jacob Hester.
There were whispers in the organization last season that Mathews needed to become more professional in his approach to his job. Eyebrows were raised in training camp when The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that he did not complete his fitness test.
When asked about Mathews's maturity level Turner said, "Some guys come in and their background is such that they're a perfect fit. Ryan came out a year early, and we knew he was a young guy. I don't think where he is from a maturity level will keep him from playing at a real high level."