Tom Telesco: Ryan Mathews is still our “bell cow”

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The Chargers bucked the recent trends with running backs by signing Donald Brown to a three-year, $10.4 million deal shortly after the start of free agency last week.

The urgency of the move suggests that Telesco has fond memories of Brown from their shared time with the Colts and raised questions about how tied the Chargers are to Ryan Mathews as their lead runner. During an interview on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego, though, Telesco said that the presence of Brown and Danny Woodhead does nothing to threaten Mathews’ role as the top dog in 2014.

“We know Ryan is our bell cow,” Telesco said, via “He’s our No. 1 back. He had an excellent year last year. And we all know what Danny Woodhead can do in his role. We saw that for 16 games last year. And we think Donald can come in and add to that, too, and give us some different options. And a different style, too. The more weapons we can have for Philip Rivers, the better.”

There are reasons beyond extra weapons to explain Brown’s presence in San Diego. Mathews missed 10 games to injury over his first three seasons and has fumbled 14 times in his four-year career, so having an able option behind him could come in handy on a couple of fronts. Mathews is also set for free agency after the season and the Chargers can feel somewhat secure about moving forward without him with Brown already under contract.

That doesn’t mean Mathews should be thinking about saying farewell, just that the bigger view shows that Brown’s arrival in San Diego makes no statement on Mathews’ role with the team in 2014 or beyond other than that it is good to have options.