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Despite Nerves, Mathews as Good as Advertised

Rookie loses breakfast, makes splash in win

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Chargers running back dashes through a hole against the Chicago Bears at Qualcomm Stadium on Aug. 14, 2010.

    Might be time for fans to buy that Ryan Mathews jersey.

    The Chargers rookie has got some staying power..

    On his debut night, Mathews stole the show, rushing for 50 yards on nine carries in a 25-10 preseason win Saturday against the Chicago Bears at Qualcomm Stadium.

    Mathews admitted afterward he didn’t exactly have nerves of steel for his first NFL game.

    “I couldn’t get any sleep last night, that’s for sure,” Mathews said. “I was tossing and turning. …Once I got (to the stadium), everything started kicking in.

    “I took a lap around the field, and then I got nauseous. I was in the bathroom throwing up. It’s all part of the first game. It’s fun. I got some of the jitters out of the way.”

    Matthews, who started and played late into the second quarter, said the game slowed down for him after his first two carries.

    On the third, it showed.

    Mathews took a Billy Volek handoff to the right before running into guard Kris Dielman. Mathews bounced off his teammate, broke an attempted tackle by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, and turned what could have been a two-yard loss into an 18-yard again.

    Vision, break-tackle ability, downhill running — head coach Norv Turner liked what he saw but said he wasn’t surprised.

    He’s seen it for some time.

    ”You trust what you see, and I’ve seen him now for three months,” Turner said. “He’s got all the things you need to be an outstanding runner. …It’s exciting to have him.”

    Mathews wasn't the lone bright spot in this one.

    Quarterback Philip Rivers was sharp in his two series, ending his day with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Legedu Naanee. Overall, Rivers was 4-for-6 for 62 yards.

    The offensive line aced its first test, allowing just one sack despite being without left tackle Marcus McNeill, who is seeking a new contract.

    Under new coordinator Mike Martz, the Bears offense was a work in progress, and the Chargers defense capitalized. Linebacker Antwan Applewhite led the way with two of six Chargers sacks and a forced fumble. Paul Oliver had both the team's takeaways with an interception and fumble recovery.

    Undrafted rookie linebacker Brandon Lang could be forcing his way onto the 53-man roster. He blocked a punt for a safety and deflected a pass.

    Looking forward, Turner wants his team to limit the penalties. The Chargers were whistled nine times for 66 yards in the first half.

    "There are certain things I saw that I'll harp on them on Monday, and that's one of them," Turner said. "But that's good. Coming off the first game, you want some things you can grind them about."