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Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers looks on during pregame before taking on the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on November 10, 2011 in San Diego, California.
Chargers running back Ryan Mathews stomachs the same questions week after week.
Are you feeling healthy? How about cutting down those fumbles? You're coming off an injury. Sure you're feeling OK?
Once and for all, the second-year pro hopes to halt the repeat track, and he took his first step Friday. Mathews practiced in full after being sidelined Thursday with knee soreness, and while listed probable, he will play Sunday when the Chargers host the Denver Broncos in a critical divisional matchup.
"It does get repetitive, but it's not their fault — it's mine," Mathews, 24, said. "It's only getting repetitive because I make the same mistakes over and over again. I struggled last year. From last year to this year, I settled it down, and nobody was really talking about it. Then all the sudden, boom, stuff started happening again, and everyone wants to jump the boat and everthing.
"But it's my fault mostly for letting it happen," Mathews said, "and I'm determined to fix it."
On ball security, Mathews has started from scratch, he says, since fumbling twice against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the second of which was lost and turned to a tide-turning touchdown drive.
That topic is nothing new for Mathews, who lost a fumble in his first two games as a rookie. He fumbled five times altogether during a 12-game season fragmented by a high-ankle sprain.
This year, which began with five straight games of at least 118 total yards, Mathews made strides with one fumble on his first 105 touches. But he has three fumbles on the 60 since, pushing his fumble-per-touch frequency to 2.4 percent, only four tenths less often than last season.
Recently, Mathews has also been fiddling with the injury bug, not putting in a full week of practice before three of the past four games when including Sunday's matchup. He missed Week 9 against the Green Bay Packers with a groin injury.
Now, he must answer for it.
The questions won't quit until Mathews silences them.
"I've showed people what I can do," Mathews said. "It's just a whole different level, doing it consistently, week in and week out. Those are the guys that are in the Pro Bowl and in the championship. These last few weeks (of the season), I've got to better myself."
Injured Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd expressed optimism Friday, saying he's "feeling a lot better" and hopes to return as early as next week.
He will miss his fourth straight game Sunday with a hip injury, which he vaguely described as a little more complicated than that. It also affects his abdomen and oblique areas, he said.
Left tackle Marcus McNeill and defensive end Luis Castillo are also out, and guards Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green are doubtful. Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist had a full practice Friday and are listed as questionable.
Phillips is expected to step in Sunday as a pass-rushing reserve who can assist in the defense's nickel package.
Wide receiver Bryan Walters was signed from the practice squad Friday, replacing offensive lineman Scott Mruczkowski on the active roster. Mruczkowski was placed on the injured reserve Thursday after suffering a concussion in the third quarter Sunday against the Bears.
Stephen Schilling is expected to start at right guard with Tony Moll filling in at left. Moll, who joined the team last week, has 19 career starts on the offensive line — all on the right side. He would become the Chargers' fourth different starter at left guard this year.
"It's been fun to get back into the grind," Moll said. "Worked on the things I needed to, so it's been a good week."