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Ryan Mathews, the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson, made it to training camp in time to take part in the San Diego Chargers' first practice in full pads.
The Chargers announced their first-round draft pick agreed to a five-year contract in a press released issued by the team, Sunday morning.
“We are excited to have Ryan here and ready to go,” Chargers President Dean Spanos said in the release. “Aside from his outstanding talents on the field, he’s a class young man and the kind of player we’re proud to add to our team."
The Chargers selected Mathews 12th in the 2010 NFL Draft. At Fresno State, Mathews set a school record with 1,808-yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior in 2009.
"It's great, just like when I got drafted," Mathews said in the statement. "Now it's official. I'm part of the team and I've got to go out there and earn my paycheck now."
"The adrenaline was rushing and I learned a lot of new stuff," Mathews said Sunday evening, hours after signing a five-year, $25.65 million contract, with just more than $15 million in guaranteed money. "Everyone is going 100 miles an hour -- safeties, linebackers coming at you a little harder in pads. It's football and I love to play it. It's all fun."
Mathews missed seven practices, including three for rookies and selected veterans last week.
Mathews is San Diego's first new featured back since Tomlinson was a rookie in 2001. Tomlinson missed most of training camp that year during a holdout but ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener.
"Myself, I'm just here to help the team win," Mathews said. "That is the No 1 thing why they drafted me. That is all I can say. My role on the team is just to run the ball and help the team do what it can to get to the last game of the year."
On Friday, Mathews was one of four Chargers who did not show up to the team's first full practice because of contract negotiations. No word if receiver Vincent Jackson, left tackle Marcus McNeill, and outside linebacker Shawne Merriman will show up to practice.
The North County Times reports contract talks for Jackson, McNeill, and Merriman have stopped.