June 19, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running backs coach Ollie Wilson (center) gives instruction to running back Ryan Mathews (24) and running back Curtis Brinkley (36) during minicamp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
OK, the Chargers didn't really say that but you'd think they had with the way the team talk about Ryan Mathews this offseason. They're calling for him to have a breakout year and even outsiders are predicting a big year for him.
What Mathews wants to avoid is a situation that popped up last year. One where he got made fun of and laughed at by his teammates. As Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune detailed last year, Mathews had a rough start to camp in 2011.
From Acee last year: "It's been a rough couple days for Mathews, who was unable to finish Wednesday's conditioning test, prompting incessant teasing (and some incredulity) from teammates."
Asked this week about failing that test last year, Mathews said (on XTRA Sports 1360): "It's all about how people see you. You can't want to be the star running back and come into camp and not be able to do the conditioning test and that was my main thing is how my fans saw me and my team saw me. I don't want to feel like that again. I had a great offseason and great OTA's and mini camp, so I'm about to blow it away. It is going to be fun."
I'm still skeptical of Mathews' 2012 season. Something's not right about all the hype he's getting this year compared to how down everyone was on him last year. But we shall see.
While we're here, here's another quote from Mathews on our old pal Le'Ron McClain:
"Oh man he is great guy. He real is. He is going to help. He's an athlete. He's a big ole athlete and just looking at him you think he is a straight forward guy, but he's got some feet on him and he can catch the ball. He can play tailback as you guys have seen playing for the Ravens and he's going to bring a whole lot of intensity and a whole lot of fear to the other teams and other guys. Just him coming downhill is going to open up a lot of holes for me and I can't wait to strap on the pads and see what he can do. It's going to be fun."