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Bolts Ready to Deploy Running Back by Committee
Ryan Mathews has officially been ruled out for Monday night’s opener at the Oakland Raiders with a broken clavicle. Luckily for the Chargers, they have been preparing for this scenario since he got hurt on his first carry of the preseason against the Green Bay Packers. As a result, the Bolts are set to deploy a potent running back by committee featuring Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley, Ronnie Brown and Le'Ron McClain.
“I like our running backs,” said head coach Norv Turner. “I’ve said it all along we’ve helped ourselves in terms of depth. It helps us to get Brinkley back. He had missed some, and between Battle and Brinkley, those are two good runners who can give us some depth. And Ronnie Brown, I’d like to see him get very involved in the offense. And we did run Le’Ron some in the preseason so he’s capable of doing it. So we have four good backs to go play this game.”
While McClain should see some carries, he will primarily be blocking for the other three who he says are extremely talented and versatile.
“As a group, we’ve been preparing for this ever since Ryan went down,” said the bruising fullback. “When I signed here, everybody asked about Ryan and we were jelling. But then they brought Ronnie in and that was a big get, and of course Brinkley’s here. And Jackie, we played together last year in KC so I knew what he could do when we signed him. And now we are rotating these guys in and I like what I see. I think Norv has a great plan for all of us and I can’t wait to see us let loose on Monday and see what we can do.”
Fellow free agent signee Battle, who brings the same muscle game that McClain does, sees himself as someone who can have a major impact on the team.
“I think I’m the powerful presence,” he said. “With or without Ryan, we have a very balanced backfield, and I think I bring a little size and power to it. This team really is super talented; more talented than I thought. I think the Chargers have the chance to compete seriously, and it starts with us.”
The speed to compliment McClain and Battle’s brawn comes from Brinkley and Brown, two shifty runners who have the potential for game-changing plays with their terrific initial burst.
“I want to have a big impact on this team, and I think my speed can do that,” said Brinkley, who turned his focus more towards the entire running back committee rather than himself. “But we all bring different things to the table and help each other out. I think we’ll be fine.”
An eight-year veteran, Brown says when his number is called, he wants to simplify things and take what the defense gives him.
“I’m just going to try to be open and be versatile, but most of all just play within the system,” he said. “I don’t want to get caught trying to do too much. That’s when you tend to make mistakes. But when my number is called, I want to be reliable and do what I know I’m capable of doing. I think if I do that, just the confidence I have in this system, I think I’ll be alright.”
Yes, not having number 24 in the backfield is a blow to the team. But the rest of the rushers have supreme confidence in their abilities and believe the offense won’t miss a beat with them running the ball.
“I really think our depth as a group is as good as any in the league,” said Brown. “When Ryan gets back, he will definitely add to that. He’s going to be a huge part of this offense and his presence is huge for this football team. But with that in mind, the group we have for Monday with myself, Le’Ron, Brink and Jackie, collectively, if we go out and play how each of us is capable of playing, I like our chances.”