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Jackson's Suspension Only One Concern With Chargers WR
As ESPN insider Adam Schefter first reported earlier this week, the NFL suspended Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson three games for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

The three-game suspension can be reduced upon appeal, but subsequent reports have indicated Jackson doesn't plan to appeal. He pleaded guilty in February to driving under the influence, his second conviction.

Jackson's suspension could be a moot point, however. He has been planning to not report to the Chargers unless he signs a long-term contract extension that nobody believes is forthcoming. He let a deadline pass without signing his tender last month and had his 2010 salary drastically cut.

If the season begins and Jackson has not reported to the team, then he would be suspended for three games that he wouldn't have played in anyway.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said last month that the team was preparing to play the 2010 season without Jackson or offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, who also didn't sign his tender.

As a result of not signing their tenders, the Chargers cut Jackson's salary from $3.268 million to $600,000 and McNeill's salary from $3.168 million to $583,000.

The Chargers, preparing for Jackson's absence, signed receiver Josh Reed earlier this offseason.

The 27-year-old Jackson had 1,167 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season, his fifth with the Chargers.

From a Fantasy perspective, the loss of three games clearly drives Jackson's value down to some degree. The concern over a possible holdout drives it down further. I'm currently ranking him at No. 29 -- well outside WR2 territory without totally giving up on him.

That is likely to change, however, if the contentious contract situation shows no signs of movement as opening day draws nearer.

It also has an impact on teammates Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates.

While the Chargers offense still seems likely to run through Rivers and the passing attack, Jackson's status will clearly be an issue. First and foremost, Rivers loses a major big-play weapon.

In case you missed it, Rivers comes off a sensational 2009 season in which continued to prove he is among the NFL's top players at his position. He finished third in the MVP voting and eclipsed 4,000 yards passing for the second straight season while tossing 28 touchdowns against only nine interceptions.

With Jackson set to miss at least three games, the question is whether the combination of Gates and Floyd can serve as a de facto No. 1 receiver in the Chargers offense.

My guess would be Gates alone can come close.

With 57 touchdowns over the past six seasons, Gates has been a player to look for at this position for a long time. And with his return to 1,000-yard plus territory

And I'm not ready to dismiss Floyd's skills out of hand.

After playing his way into the starting lineup last season, the Chargers felt comfortable enough with Floyd to release Chris Chambers. Floyd went on to catch 45 balls, a personal best, and his 17.2 yards per reception tied his best and placed him among the league leaders.

What was a bit surprising was that at 6-5, he only caught one touchdown when he had been a very successful red-zone receiver in past years. I suspect we'll see him get a much greater opportunity to regain that form this year -- especially if Jackson's absence goes beyond the three-game suspension.

At this point, I have Floyd ranked as a solid WR3 but much like Jackson's current standing, Floyd's could change dramatically in the next two months. Those interested will want to keep a close eye on the News & Views section of this site for ongoing developments and watch here, in the Headline News section, for major changes. ...

Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports rookie running back Ryan Mathews said he isn't going to hold out.

When asked if he sees himself holding out and signing during the last quarter of training camp -- his predecessor LaDainian Tomlinson did -- he almost appeared offended.

"My main thing is to get into camp as soon as possible," Mathews said (Chargers rookies report July 25). "I've talked to my agent; I need to be there. Too many guys hold out for all the wrong reasons and I'm not going to be one of them. I'm looking ahead, to winning that last game of the year, the Super Bowl."

The Chargers traded into the first round of April's draft to select Mathews after releasing Tomlinson and will undoubtedly be pleased to see him take part in a full training camp.

Indeed, head coach Norv Turner has made no secret of his plan to get plenty of productivity from the Mathews in his rookie year.

"I would expect Ryan to have 250 carries and 40 catches, something like that," Turner told the Union-Tribune shortly after the draft.

Opportunity won't be an issue. Nor will lack of confidence.

Asked to describe his playing style, Mathews told Canepa: "I'd like to consider myself a little bit like LT, a little bit like Frank Gore, but mostly myself -- a good combination, I think. I'm big enough to run through tackles and agile enough to make people miss. What I'd like to be is a contributor the way LT was a contributor.

"I have a lot of goals. ... Written down in my house. I don't like to talk about them; I'm afraid I might jinx it. But there are no rushing numbers, anything like that. Team goals come first; getting to the Super Bowl comes first."

So. ... Is Mathews RB1 material. I think so. He currently sits at No. 12 on my Rankings.