While you want all or as many of your weapons as possible when meeting your arch-rival on the gridiron, the San Diego Chargers know of at least one key cog in their arsenal that will be missing this Monday night.
When the Bolts line up to meet the Raiders in Oakland, top running back Ryan Mathews will not be in uniform, still recovering from surgery to repair a broken clavicle.
Mathews, who rushed for 1,091 yards last season in his second NFL campaign, injured his clavicle on his first carry of the first preseason game this summer. In that win over Green Bay, Mathews went down in the first quarter after scampering for five yards on his initial carry.
With Mathews on the shelf at least for the opener and possibly the home opener the following week (Sept. 16) against Tennessee, former Miami back Ronnie Brown will be the featured back for the Bolts. Brown, who left as the Dolphins number three all-time rusher, will also be assisted in the backfield by Le’Ron McClain.
As he gets closer to returning to game action, Mathews participated this last week with the Chargers in during non-contact drills. According to doctors, Mathews was expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks after sustaining the injury back on Aug. 9.
Mathews, meantime, indicated that doctors and management just want him to take the cautious route in rehabbing the injury, so as not to jeopardize him possibly missing a sizable chunk of the season if he comes back too soon.
San Diego will also be without wide receiver Vincent Brown, who broke an ankle on a touchdown-scoring drive versus Dallas in game two of the preseason. Brown, who also underwent surgery, is expected to be out possibly at least until sometime in October.
While San Diego is missing its top running back and one of its wide receivers, the Raiders will also have to make do without one of their main offensive weapons.
Oakland announced this weekend that wide receiver and returner Jacoby Ford will sit out Monday’s game due to a sprained left foot.
Ford, who has not practiced or played since suffering the injury in the team’s second preseason game on Aug. 17 at Arizona, sat out six games a season ago with the same injury.
The Raiders reported that backup running back Taiwan Jones will handle returning kicks, while cornerback Philip Adams is slated to do the same on punts.
Having both finished the season at 8-8 in 2011, the Chargers and the Raiders are hoping 2012 brings better and brighter things.
San Diego finished off any playoff aspirations Oakland had a season ago with a 38-26 victory in the regular season finale in Northern California. Along with Kansas City at 8-8, the Chargers and Raiders finished a game behind Denver (9-7) and Tim Tebow for the AFC West title.
With Peyton Manning now at the quarterback helm in Denver this season, the Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs will all be looking to unseat the Broncos as defending AFC West champs.
Part of that attempt to unseat the Broncos starts Monday night when the Chargers and Raiders play the final game of Week One.
Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.