The San Diego Chargers were looking toward Ryan Mathews to be a focal point on offense in 2012.
When he suffered a broken clavicle in the team's first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, his status as the Chargers' feature back took a step backward. The 24-year-old has had a history of injuries dating back to his collegiate career at Fresno State.
Still, Mathews believes he will be ready for the Chargers' September 10 season opener against the Oakland Raiders.
"I think I heal pretty fast," he told reporters. "I think I'll be good in time to play against the Raiders. ... I'm happy it happened now than against the Raiders. It's better that it happened now, just to get it out of the way. It gives me a few weeks to recover and get back at it."
Doctors gave the third-year back a three-to-six week timetable for a return, so it's possible Mathews could recover in time to face the team's hated rival.
The Chargers will rely heavily on Mathews -- even more so than in his first two seasons. The team lost Mike Tolbert to free agency and will need to see if it has a true workhorse in Mathews.
For more on the Chargers and reactions to the news on Mathews, check out Bolts from the Blue.