Ryan Mathews suffered a groin injury in the fourth quarter of Monday's loss to the Chargers. The severity is not yet known, but it was enough to prevent him from returning to the game. His final play was a 14-yard reception with nine minutes left in regulation.
Despite losing their starting running back, it's hard to say the Chargers missed him. Backup running back Curtis Brinkley, who came into the night with just two career touches, caught a 20-yard reception two plays after Mathews left. He dove two yards into the end zone on the very next play, and then caught the game-tying two-point conversion. Seeing action as the featured back the rest of the way, Brinkley gained 27 yards on five carries.
With Mike Tolbert sidelined with a hamstring injury, Mathews was expected to carry a full load. He came through with 112 yards from scrimmage, including 13 carries for 57 yards and a team-high six receptions for 55 yards. He played through a minor injury to his left thumb suffered in Week 7. That injury didn't contribute to his second-quarter fumble, though, which occurred when he had the ball punched out of the grip of his right hand.
Mathews clearly has a lot of talent, but his inability to stay on the field has been a frequent problem. Ironically enough, just this week he talked about playing hurt in a radio interview with XX1090 San Diego.
"No one's going to be 100 percent healthy coming in, so you start learning to suck it up," he said. "You've got to play when you're hurt."
Stay tuned for more on Mathews' injury this week as information becomes available.
For more on San Diego, visit Chargers blog Bolts From The Blue.