Archive for the ‘Ryan Mathews’ Category

Hey, remember that cuddly Ryan Mathews optimism we poisoned you with earlier this week? Yeah, he still hates you. And us. He hates all of us, for Mathews is the keeper of our hope, the builder of our optimism, and the destroyer of our ambition.

Say, maybe we’re taking this fantasy football deal a little too seriously? Nah. Moving on then.

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Yesterday it was reported that San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is confident he’ll return from his broken clavicle in time for Week 1. At the time, I scoffed (I scoff an awful lot, I think it’s a medical condition), because every player thinks their injury is healing ahead of schedule. It’s an industry standard.

I guess I should get my scoffing condition looked at by a physician, because Mathews has a reason to be optimistic, and therefore so do you if you’ve taken a risk on him. He’s been cleared by team doctors to start upper-body exercises on his left side.

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Ryan Mathews is a running back, and a very good one when he isn’t doing his best impersonation of a feather. He is not, however, a doctor. Neither am I, and neither are you (or maybe you are, and if so can you please give a full diagnosis of Mathews in the comments section? Thanks).

But the doctors on his team have put his projected timetable for a return at four-to-six weeks, which means the best case scenario is that he’ll miss one game, and the worst case is he’ll be out three games. Dr. Mathews disagrees. Strongly.

During a radio appearance yesterday the brittle running back who’s missed six games over just his two NFL seasons said there’s “no doubt” he’ll be in the Chargers’ backfield for his team’s Week 1 Monday night opener against the Raiders, making a speedy return from his broken clavicle. His optimism is rooted in his quick progress already, as he’s been freed from his sling only a week after the injury, and he’s doing light workouts.

Mathews’ high hopes are expected, and are natural for any injured athlete who’s participating in any sport. The will to grind is essential during a rehabilitation period, and if you can’t convince yourself that the light at the end of the tunnel is bright, then the pain of rehab becomes far more difficult. However, reality is optimism’s worst enemy.

Neil Ghodadra is a doctor in Chicago, and a former team doctor for the White Sox and Bulls. When asked for his opinion, he said that expecting Mathews back on the field prior to October is unwise.

“It takes six weeks for the bone to heal. Even after you fix it with the clavicle plate and screws, the bone still has to heal, so you are looking at six weeks for that at minimum. Studies have shown 8.8 weeks is how long it takes for NFL players to get back from clavicle fractures.”

That’s longer than four weeks, and longer than six weeks. A return in early October would indeed be eight weeks since Mathews’ injury, and would mean he’d miss four games. Put another way which is far more depressing for both Chargers fans and fantasy owners, he’d miss a quarter of the season.

I have no medical experience whatsoever to support this, but it feels like Ghodadra is being just a touch too conservative. Sure, there’s a possibility Mathews could miss four games, but if he’s already doing light activity, the possibility that his absence could be brief seems to be equally strong.

But here’s the real question. Let’s assume Mathews is healed in time for Week 1, and he’s fine and ready to go. If you’re the Chargers, why the hell would you push him back ahead of the original projected timetable and risk a further aggravation that could put your cowbell RB out for the season? Two years ago Tony Romo suffered a collarbone injury early in the year and didn’t return. Ditto for Jason Campbell last year.

It’s a classic risk/reward scenario. The reward would be possibly winning a game that could be won without Mathews anyway by putting a heavier workload on Philip Rivers for one week while your running back who was injured on his FIRST CARRY of the preseason gets a bit more time to heal. The risk? Losing Mathews for the year.

Easiest. Decision. Ever.

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And so it is, as it was written. The NFL season will likely begin without Ryan Mathews, and as mid August creeps upon us along with fantasy draft season, a running back pool that was already shallow at the top has lost a few more inches of water. Soon enough we’ll be in an ankle-deep kiddie pool, with water wings a required accessory.

I know what you’re thinking, my optimism addicted friend. Mathews will only miss 3-4 games tops, so there’s no reason to break that glass case of emotion and jump from tall buildings while wearing no clothes. And you’re right, sort of, a little bit.

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We’ll have more on this tomorrow morning once I finish watching every game from earlier tonight in its entirety, and then sleep for several minutes.

But, um, boom goes the dynamite.

That happened on Ryan Mathews’ first carry during the Chargers’ first series in their first preseason game. Between Michael Vick getting injured — although not seriously — tonight and Mathews going down, we can rest safely knowing that the Earth is rotating in a normal, circular fashion.

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