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Ryan Mathews thinks he’ll be ready for the opener

Ryan Mathews, A.J. Hawk

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) as he carries the ball on his first run in an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in San Diego. Mathews broke his clavicle on the 5-yard run. (AP Photo/Matt York)


Beyond yards or touchdowns, Ryan Mathews goal is to play 16 games this year.

Last week’s broken clavicle, which was expected to sideline him four to six weeks after Friday’s surgery, doesn’t change that goal.

Mathews told Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego he still thought he’d be ready to play in the regular season opener Sept. 10.

“I think I heal pretty fast,” Mathews said. “I think I’ll be good in time to play against the Raiders. . . .

“I’m happy it happened now than against the Raiders. It’s better that it happened now, just to get it out of the way. It gives me a few weeks to recover and get back at it.”

Mathews wasn’t wearing a sling, and moved his right arm around to show mobility. He’s also continued to do conditioning work while out of practice.

“My legs aren’t broken,” Mathews said. “I can still do stuff with my legs and everything. It’s more just upper body stuff that I’ll probably have to shy away from, but my legs work just fine.”

The fact he’s going to be close to ready, at least, by the opener explains why the Chargers haven’t gone out for a replacement. They’re working with in-house backups now, and if Mathews is on track to be out there against the Raiders in Week 1, there was no need for a Cedric Benson or another free agent.