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Turner: Mathews will give Chargers more balance

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. robdog
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    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-chargers-draft" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    By Bernie Wilson

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://www.chargers.com/assets/images/imported/SD/photos/Centerpiece/Mathews/Ryan-Mathews-jersey-450.jpg"><img title="Ryan Mathews - Chargers.com Photo" src="http://www.chargers.com/assets/images/imported/SD/photos/Centerpiece/Mathews/Ryan-Mathews-jersey-450.jpg" alt="" width="213" height="189" /></a></div>

    SAN DIEGO (AP)-Ryan Mathews felt his performance at the scouting combine and pro day helped boost his draft stock.

    Chargers coach Norv Turner felt it was something else.

    "I think those 250 yards against Boise State had something to do with it, too," Turner interjected during a news conference on Friday.

    It was actually 234 yards, but Turner's point is that big-time performances matter just as much, if not more, than 40-yard dash times, vertical leaps and other measurements players are subjected to before the draft.

    Turner thinks Mathews will be just fine as he makes the jump from the Western Athletic Conference to the NFL. He's the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson, who was released in February and then signed with the New York Jets.

    "The thing that is interesting is, L.T. jumped from the WAC to the NFL; Marshall Faulk. My experience with backs is, good backs are good backs. If they are good runners they are good runners. If you give them a lane they are going to make the most of it. We really believe Ryan will take advantage of the opportunities our offensive line gives him but he is going to create big plays on his own because he has done that all his life."

    Mathews was introduced to the San Diego media on Friday, a day after the Chargers made a big trade with the Miami Dolphins to jump up 16 spots in the first round to take him with the 12th overall pick.

    The Chargers also spent heavily in a trade with San Francisco to move up 12 spots in the third round to take inside linebacker Donald Butler from Washington with the 79th pick overall Friday. The Chargers sent the 49ers their third-round pick, a sixth-round pick and San Diego's fourth-round pick in 2011.

    Turner expects Mathews to give the Chargers more balance as they head into the post-Tomlinson era. The pass-happy Chargers were near the bottom in the NFL in every significant rushing category last year.

    "For whatever reason, last year throwing the football was the best thing we did," Turner said. "We want to get back to being more balanced. That's a team deal. Everyone wants to put it on the line, on the back, on the coach, all those things. It's a little bit of everything. We'll be really focused in on being a better running team.

    "The one thing I do know is Ryan will give us big plays," Turner said. "I do believe he can get the hard yards."

    In that Boise State game, Mathews had touchdown runs of 69, 60 and 68 yards.

    Mathews is eager to get his pro career going.

    "I've seen some film of the Chargers," he said. "The scheme they run is very similar to what we ran at Fresno State, so I don't think the transition will be that difficult. It's going to be fun. I do whatever it takes, even if that means I'm pass blocking on every down."

    That's not likely to happen.

    Mathews knows there are going to be comparisons with Tomlinson, who was his idol growing up.

    "That's going to be the main thing, how I handle it," Mathews said. "You really can't compare me to L.T. He's a great back and a great man. The man's a legend. You can't replace someone like him. I want to step in here and be my own man with my own style."

    Mathews said he became a fan of Tomlinson's during his sophomore year of high school.

    "That's when I started paying more attention to his running style and everything, and when I started wearing No. 21," he said.

    Jimmy Raye, the director of player personnel, said the fact that Butler can play either inside linebacker position made him worth the price. He also said the situation with Butler was the same as with Mathews.

    "You're sitting there and you have a couple of guys you're interested in. You have to make a decision-do you want to try to go up and get him or are you going to sit there and wait for him? And we made the decision to go up and get him," Raye said.

    Turner agrees with that philosophy.

    "That player, he may be a difference-maker," the coach said.

    Butler said he'll make it worth it to the Chargers.

    He described himself as "someone who's going to come in day in and day out and work. That's how I was raised and that's all I know. I come in and work, and hopefully I can work in any possible way."

    General manager A.J. Smith didn't return a call seeking comment.

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