Chargers vs. Cardinals: Ryan Mathews impresses, Arizona suffers costly injuries

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers' running back continues his impressive preseason, while the Cardinals lose first-rounder Jonathan Cooper to a broken leg.

The San Diego Chargers defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 24-7, Saturday, picking up their first preseason win under first-year head coach Mike McCoy.

It was a somewhat bumpy ride for the Chargers, who seemed to come away from the win with nearly as many negatives as they did positives. John Gennaro at Bolts from the Blue details some of the ups-and-downs of San Diego's night:

The Chargers' defense and special teams units looked great, but part of me wonders if they looked great or if the Cardinals' opposing units simply looked that bad. The blocked punt by Darrell Stuckey was probably the play of the game for either team.

Ryan Mathews looked good, but also fumbled the ball. Philip Rivers seemed to get the ball out a bit sooner, but still threw an interception and spent a lot of time staring down Antonio Gates. Fozzy Whittaker looked better than Ronnie Brown. While Keenan Allen didn't do much for the offense, his 44 yard punt return was one of the better plays of the game for San Diego.

Mathews's performance so far this preseason has been very promising news for Chargers fans. After missing significant time in 2012 with first one, then another other broken clavicle, the fourth-year running back has averaged 4.65 yards per carry through three games. That's a big improvement over the 3.8 average he carried through 12 contests last season.

The biggest news coming out of this game for the Cardinals was injuries, as seven players bit the dust with varying degrees of medical issues. Running back Rashard Mendenhall and tight end D.C. Jefferson suffered knee injuries, tight end Rob Housler, defensive tackle Dan Williams and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy hurt their ankles and wideout Andre Roberts tweaked his quad.

The most concerning injury, however, was the broken left leg suffered by rookie guard Jonathan Cooper. It is not yet known how much time the break will cost the team's first-round draft pick, but it's possible that he could be done for the season.

Jess Root at Revenge of the Birds sees several options for a replacement:

As for who will step in for Cooper, the team will talk about that. Chilo Rachal was the one that came in to replace Cooper when it happened. Daryn Colledge used to play left guard and Paul Fanaika has played well so far. Arians did say that Fanaika "is one name to come up."

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