Ryan Mathews’ NFL career began against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football a year ago, a game where he ran the ball 20 times for 78 yards, but also had a fumble in the San Diego Chargers’ opening-day loss. It’s kind of a bittersweet memory, but he’ll have a chance to make up for the fumble when he’s back in the exact same situation tonight against the Chiefs.
Mathews, who could see a bigger share of the load with Mike Tolbert likely out tonight, leads the Chargers with 452 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 98 carries and has also caught 24 passes for 287 yards. More importantly, he has yet to fumble the ball away to the other team this year.
Ryan Mathews joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to discuss going back to play the Chiefs on Monday night, a shift in his personality, the magnitude of tonight’s game, the mood after losing to the Jets, playing a bigger role in the passing game, playing hurt and the Chiefs’ defense.
How does it feel to be going to Kansas City for tonight’s game, seeing as that was the exact opponent and situation where your career began last year?:
“It’s going to be fun. My season didn’t start how I wanted it to last year, but new season, that’s in the past and I’m looking forward to it.”
What do you remember about that game?:
“It started raining and that fumble. The big thing on my mind was that fumble. That can’t happen. I’ve been working to try to fix my problems and I think it’s been working.”
Has your personality shifted a little bit since then to now you have a little bit of an edge to you?:
“Yeah, this is all about swagger. I’m trying to come in here and do as much as I can to help this team in. Last year, it was a rookie thing, you’ve got to come in and do your best. But the coaches and staff, my teammates, know what I can do and I’m trying to prove to them, still, that I can be the running back that they want me to be. It’s all about business. … I’m a lot more comfortable now and a lot more confident than I was last year.”
The Chiefs have said this is the biggest game of the year. How are the Chargers approaching it?:
“Every game we’ve got to play is the biggest game of the year. It’s the next game and that’s how you’ve got to treat it. You never know when this game could be taken away from you.”
What’s the mood of the team after losing to the Jets?:
“It’s tough to lose, but that’s in the past and we can’t worry about that game. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We’re going to be good. We’ve just been working hard for this game.”
What did you do to prepare yourself for having a bigger role in the passing game?:
“I’ve had a lot of help from my teammates, especially in the running back room. … They’ve been helping me out a lot and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. If I have a question, they tell me. Really, I just owe a lot of credit to them. They’ve got me a lot more comfortable where I am now, where I can just go out there and play ball and have fun.”
On playing hurt:
“No one’s going to be 100 percent healthy coming in, so you start learning to suck it up. You’ve got to play when you’re hurt.”
What do you see from the Chiefs’ defense?:
“They’re fast, real fast. Their linebacking corps is just awesome and their secondary has really stepped up the past few weeks. It looks like they’re just a completely different team than the first time we played them, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”