Ryan Mathews: Updates on Chargers Star's Neck

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers looks on against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on October 15, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The injury bug that has plagued San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews' young career simply will not disappear.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Tom Krasovic, Mathews has missed both team practices this week due to a neck injury. That leaves his status for Sunday's critical matchup against the Denver Broncos very uncertain.  

UPDATE: Sunday, November 18 at 3:10 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp

Minor update here, as Mathews was expected to play as reports came in later this week. That expectation has been proven true according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Ryan Mathews is active for Chargers, as expected. Neck tightness loosened up as week progressed. He's good to go.

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) November 18, 2012

If you've got him, Mathews is a low-end RB2 or decent flex option this week. Get him in those lineups.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Sunday, November 18 at 12:43 p.m. ET

Ryan Mathews is expected to start for the Chargers and be the team's workhorse runner, according to CBS Sports' Jamey Eisenberg per CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora.

Jason La Canfora reports that Ryan Mathews is expected to play and start and be their "bellcow."

— Jamey Eisenberg (@JameyEisenberg) November 18, 2012

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Friday, Nov. 16 at 4:16 p.m. by Tyler Conway

Just when Mathews' status for Sunday began looking extremely bleak, the Chargers back has decided to pull us back in. According to Scott Bair of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mathews practiced Friday for the first time all week:

Chargers running back Ryan Mathews practiced Friday and for the first time this week after sitting out with a neck injury.

The third-year pro hasn't played when he didn't practice during the week, so his presence offers a glimmer of hope that he could be active Sunday against Denver.

While that's undoubtedly good news, there are still no guarantees Mathews will be in the lineup on Sunday. Be sure to check back in regularly as more updates will surely roll in as we get closer to kickoff.

---End of Update---

As most who follow the Mathews story would know, this isn't exactly his first appearance on the injury report. The third-year back already missed the first three games of the season due to a broken collarbone, giving him nine missed games in his short career. 

Expected by many to have an ascendant season, Mathews' 2012 campaign has mostly been a disappointment, even since returning from injury. As part of a team-wide struggle on offense, Mathews has failed to reach 100 yards rushing in any contest and has just one touchdown thus far. 

For the season, Mathews has rushed for a mere 475 yards in seven games, while averaging a career-low 4.2 yards per carry. 

Nevertheless, the first three weeks of the season were glaring evidence that the Chargers need Mathews. Backups Jackie Battle, Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley all failed to make most of their chances, leaving a struggling Philip Rivers to fend for himself against opposing defenses.

If Mathews sits on Sunday, it stands to reason that Brown and Battle will split carries. Neither guy is worthy of starter carries at this point, but each has shown competency in limited work.

Regardless, with the Chargers already two games behind the Broncos, the team will do whatever it can to keep its star running back in the lineup. Be sure to check back in as we give you the latest updates on Mathews' status before this clash of AFC West foes.