While addressing the media at the 2013 NFL Combine, San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco stated that he believes that Ryan Mathews has what it takes to be a bell-cow back, though he'd like to have another running back to complement his style of play.
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"He's really talented," Telesco said on Thursday afternoon. "He's a really good back. He's got size, he runs well. He's had production but he's had some injuries too. I think he can be a bell-cow back, but he needs to prove that on the field by staying healthy, and I think he's going to have a chance to do that. But all the talent is there."
Mathews was the Chargers' first-round pick out of Fresno State in the 2010 NFL Draft, coming off the board at No. 12 overall. The Chargers hoped he would be a suitable replacement for future hall of fame back LaDainian Tomlinson, but he has struggled to fill the void left by Tomlinson.
In his three seasons, he has managed more than 1,000 yards only once and has yet to play a full 16 games. Mathews is coming off a 2012 season in which he rushed for 707 yards and only scored one touchdown, but fumbled twice. The lack of a running game has also hurt Philip Rivers and the Chargers' ability to pass the ball down the field.
While Telesco believes in Mathews, he did make it clear that he would like a complement back to help share the load.
"Would we like a complement back? There's no doubt about it," Telesco said. "I'm a big believer in two backs. These guys take a lot of punishment during the year so to have two backs back there would help. You'd like to have three, but with two backs, Ryan wouldn't have to take the bulk of the carries week in and week out. Who that complement is, and their style, it doesn't really matter what that style is, as long as they can come in and play. We would like a complement with him, but I still think Ryan could do it as one back."
The Chargers had the No. 27 ranked rushing offense throughout the 2012 regular season, averaging 91.3 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry.