Chargers Look to Avoid 0-2 Start on the Road

The San Diego Chargers go to Seattle, looking to avoid something they didn't do all of last year: lose their second game on the road.

With a 7-1 record away from Qualcomm Stadium in 2009, the Chargers set a franchise mark for road victories. But their first venture away from San Diego resulted in an ugly, 21-14 defeat at Kansas City.

But when the Chargers reach Seattle, will Ryan Mathews be fit to be the lead back?

Mathews, the 12th overall pick, hurt his ankle in Sunday's win over the Jaguars. He was taken off on a cart, but returned to the field later in uniform. But the Chargers declined to risk inserting their No. 1 back in the game.

"They said they wanted to wait," said Mathews, who has two turnovers and no touchdowns in two games. "(Mike) Tolbert was running so well that they didn't need to risk it, so their decision was to hold me out. I felt like I could've come back in, but they said they didn't want to risk anything."

Look for Tolbert - even if Mathews is OK - to get plenty of work against the Seahawks. Tolbert has transformed from an undrafted fullback to a focal part of the running game. He had a career-high 82 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday.

TE Antonio Gates
Harry How/Getty
But the Seahawks - no matter the back - could provide a stiff challenge. They are allowing but 57 rushing yards per game.

The Chargers have been bent on improving a running attack that was pedestrian last year. They hoped by drafting Mathews after releasing LaDainian Tomlinson, that his fresh legs would be the key.

While Mathews has been OK, he's averaging 4.2 yards, there have been some arched eyebrows on his ball security. He lost a fumble in Kansas City that resulted in a touchdown and when he was stripped of the ball Sunday that turned into three points.

So while Mathews will be missed, Tolbert has diminished by how much.

"It's obviously important to come in as the second guy and not have a drop-off," Tolbert said.

What isn't slipping is the play of quarterback Philip Rivers. After a somewhat rocky season debut in Kansas City, he hits Seattle coming off another 300-yard passing game. While much has been made of the unsigned Vincent Jackson no longer being a target, Rivers said he has plenty of capable targets. He proved it against the Jaguars when connecting with eight different Chargers.

"We got a great group to throw the football to: backs, tight ends, receivers," Rivers said. "We're going to use them all. Any given week could be their week as far different individuals."

LINEUP WATCH: Linebacker Brandon Siler filled in for Stephen Cooper (knee) and that could be the case on Sunday. While Cooper regularly leads the Chargers in tackles, Siler stepped in and had a stellar game in Sunday's win: an interception, six tackles, two passes defensed and a quarterback hit. Siler started last season in a backup role but worked his way into the starting lineup when Kevin Burnett was injured.

UNDER THE RADAR: Wide receiver Patrick Crayton is slowing getting up to speed with the Chargers' offense and his new quarterback, Philip Rivers, after coming over from the Cowboys. He had one catch on Sunday after not getting a pass in the opener. Crayton's position is crowded, but mostly with receivers not matching Crayton's experience.


--LS Ryan Neill is the newest Charger, taking over as the long snapper. Veteran David Binn was hurt and put on injured reserve after the opener; his replacement James Dearth went through one practice before getting hurt and joining Binn on IR.

--SS Darrell Stuckey, a fourth-round pick, has been a healthy inactive for both games.

--CB Antoine Cason is coming off his best game after recording two interceptions.

--DT Cam Thomas, a fifth-round selection, has yet to suit up. He was supposed to contribute in the run defense.

--DT Antonio Garay continues to hold off Ogemdi Nwagbuo for the starting job.

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