Following up on an item in this week's Team Notes. ... As San Diego Union-Tribune staffer Michael Gelken suggested this morning, the team had no incentive Wednesday to declare its starting running back five days before a Monday night game against the Broncos. Indications are, however, the Chargers believe Ryan Mathews is ready to take that next step and return to the starting lineup.
"He's made the progress we'd like," head coach Norv Turner said.
Three weeks ago, Mathews made his season debut, starting against the Falcons after missing six weeks with a broken clavicle. He looked sharp, right until a second-quarter fumble near the goal line.
Mathews has come off the bench in the two games since.
His workload expanded from 16 touches against the Chiefs to 18 Sunday against the Saints. The gravity of those situations grew in magnitude to include more snaps in the red zone and deep in San Diego's own territory.
He handled them all.
In the Chargers' past five quarters, Mathews has 22 carries for 160 yards and a touchdown with seven receptions for 69 yards. He averaged 6.5 yards per touch the past two games, ranking second among all NFL running backs over that span.
Turner, as he's maintained all along, said Wednesday he has "great confidence" in Mathews.
"I think he was in a tough spot that first game," Turner said. "He came off the injury and played against Atlanta. I thought he was good, but I thought there were some things he could do better. ...
"Every time he has adversity, every time he has a setback, he comes back stronger. He's done that since he's been here. Every time everyone wants to count him out, he comes back and he's better. He's just a mentally tough guy. When he's on and he's right, he's awfully good."
As Gehlken noted, Mathews finished Sunday's game strong.
Now it finally looks like he'll get another chance to start strong.