San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews still hasn't been cleared to run in his rehab from an MCL sprain.
San Diego's game this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs falls in the fifth week since Mathews's injury. It's unlikely he'll be ready to return by the team's next game, since the Chargers have a short week before they play the Denver Broncos on Thursday, Oct. 23. San Diego has a bye the following week.
"I'm hoping [I can run soon]," Mathews said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time. When they think it's time for me to start running, then it's time to start running. It's all in their hands."
Mathews' MCL sprain is just one of several injuries to Chargers running backs this season. One week after Mathews's injury, Danny Woodhead was lost for the season due to a broken fibula. Donald Brown, who was acquired after the pair's injuries, sustained a concussion in San Diego's Week 5 game against the New York Jets and was inactive last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
With the injuries to that trio, undrafted rookie Branden Oliver has become the team's No. 1 back and performed well, carrying the ball 57 times for 249 yards, including 215 yards and two touchdowns in San Diego's last two games.
Oliver is likely to take on a reduced role when Mathews returns. Mathews said he's not worried about how carries will be split and is instead just concerned about returning to the field.
Mathews, 27, has been with the Chargers since they selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. He had 1,255 rushing yards and six touchdowns last season.
The Chargers are 5-1 this season and in first place in the AFC West.
- Ben Estes