The San Diego Chargers dropped a 24-17 decision to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football, and their rushing game was one of the casualties in the defeat. Ryan Mathews returned from a groin injury and split carries with Mike Tolbert throughout the evening. Mathews finished with six rushes for 34 yards and Tolbert finished with seven rushes for 36 yards.
The two backs also had fairly solid performances coming out of the backfield. Tolbert was targeted nine times and had five receptions for 37 yards. Mathews was targeted five times and had three receptions for 23 yards. It is safe to say this running back situation is a bit of a mess. The Chargers trailed for much of the game so it is not surprising that Tolbert got a lot of work given the need for passing plays.
It does not get much easier in week eleven as the Chargers travel to Chicago to face the generally stout Bears defense. If the Chargers fall behind early, we could see a repeat split of touches. Moving forward, it's entirely reasonably for you to decide between Tolbert and Mathews based on how you think the Chargers will do in a given week. If you don't want to make those kinds of predictions, Tolbert appears to be the safer play for now. Mathews does get some red zone touches, but Tolbert is the guy they roll with when their defense is struggling.