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Ryan Mathews gave Chargers offensive linemen Gucci watches

Gucci-watchSan Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, rushing for a career-high 1,255 yards and appearing in all 16 games for the first time since he turned pro. Like any other running back in the NFL, Mathews could not have done it without the help of his offensive line. That’s why he decided to thank them all by giving them gifts.

According to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, Mathews gave each of his offensive lineman a Gucci watch last week. Center Nick Hardwick was thankful for the gesture but did not seem surprised.

“He’s awesome,” Hardwick said. “That is who he is. It’s not him being humble just to be humble. He truly is that. He’ll grab you and say, ‘Let’s get this done. Let’s get this going.’ He knows it takes all of us. It takes his fullback. It takes his tight ends. It takes the receivers to pop big runs. It certainly takes the offensive line, and he knows that. He’s fully bought into the team concept of ‘us.’”

What was a bit surprising, however, is that Mathews even gave a watch to veteran offensive tackle Willie Smith. Smith was signed as insurance in November and played just six snaps for the Chargers during the regular season.

“I was shocked,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘What the heck? Gucci? On my seat? At my locker? Wow.’ That was my response. I did not expect to get anything. … I didn’t know who it was from until I asked everybody, and they said it was Ryan.”

Mathews refused to talk about the gifts when asked about them, so you know he wasn’t doing it for the publicity. It is not uncommon for running backs and quarterbacks to buy gifts for their offensive lineman, but that doesn’t make it any less thoughtful. And hey, at least Mathews didn’t make his linemen do what Carson Palmer made the Arizona Cardinals hogs do.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Ryan Mathews did the LT ball flip celebration after touchdown (GIF)

Ryan Mathews had a LaDainian Tomlinson-type game for the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night, so it was fitting that he celebrated his touchdown run like he was LT.

Mathews went for 127 yards on 29 carries — his fifth 100-yard game of the season — and he scored on a 23-yard touchdown run against the Denver Broncos in the third quarter to make it 24-10. After going into the end zone, Mathews struck the LaDainian Tomlinson pose and did the ball flip:

Ryan Mathews LaDainian Tomlinson

Mathews did the celebration while airborne, which made him look a bit like Liu Kang flying through the air, but that was definitely a nod to the Chargers legend. The Fresno State product is not having his best career season with San Diego, but he’s definitely putting together a nice one for the Chargers.

GIF via Fansided

Ryan Mathews ripped by teammates for saying Chargers were ‘complacent’ in 2012

Ryan-Mathews-ChargersLast week, San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews made the mistake of saying some things on behalf of his team that could be viewed as criticism. During an appearance on “NFL AM,” Mathews said that he believed the Chargers got “complacent” under Norv Turner and may have taken winning for granted.

“I think he (Norv Turner) did everything he could to try to make us win, no doubt about it,” Mathews said. “I just think we really got complacent to where we were and what we were doing and thought we were owed to win games.”

Several of Mathews’ teammates took the comment personally, feeling that it was the fourth-year running back’s way of saying the team was not giving a full effort. On Monday, linebacker Donald Butler said he wishes Mathews would not have spoken for other people on the team.

“I just wish he would have spoken for himself,” Butler told U-T San Diego. “That’s all. Just speak for yourself. Don’t make generalized statements like that about the whole team. … I haven’t got a chance to talk to him, but I’m sure he knows that. It is what is. Just speak on yourself, and that’s it.”

Center Nick Hardwick agreed with Butler, providing a vivid description of how hard he worked before every game during San Diego’s disappointing 2012 season.

“Just from my own personal standpoint, I throw up before every game,” Hardwick said. “I know what kind of work it’s going to take to even get through a game, let alone to win a game.”

As Kevin Patra of Around the League pointed out, Mathews likely did not intend to insult his teammates or downplay their hard work. Instead, he was probably trying to make the point that firing Turner was the right thing to do and that it was time for a change. I’m sure he has learned a valuable lesson and will chose his words more carefully next time around.

Ryan Mathews Boosts His Fantasy Football Stock for 2011

It’s amazing how perspective has changed from real football to fantasy football, but I suppose the point is the same. After letting LaDainian Tomlinson go and trading up to get a running back in the first round of the draft, the Chargers planned to turn their rushing attack over to fresh legs in 2010. San Diego targeted Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews as their man but the plan did not pan out.

Mathews hurt his ankle in week two and returned two weeks later as a complementary back. He shared carries with Mike Tolbert for about six weeks, hurt his ankle again, and missed three more games. Mathews split carries with Tolbert the last three weeks but became the feature back after Tolbert was knocked out for the season with a neck injury.

Mathews saw a season high 26 carries Sunday against Denver, rolling for 120 yards and three touchdowns. He caught three passes for 19 yards and seemed to making big play after big play for the Chargers. This was the first time all year Mathews got a full dose of carries and he pounded the pill at will.

Mike Tolbert will likely be back to share the load, but after an off-season to rest, Mathews should be a monster next year. Best part of all, after starting off the year with a fumbling problem (one in each of his first two games, three all year), Mathews didn’t fumble over the final month of the year. He has the makings of a great second running back to draft next season in fantasy football, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Chargers start running the ball more in the future. For another take, check out Adam Rank’s post at NFL.com.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images