Ryan Mathews takes big step

Ryan Mathews’ recovery from a broken clavicle has been a roller coaster ride that has been difficult to read.

Thursday, it took another twist, and it seems like the San Diego Chargers’ starting running back might be able to play Sunday against Tennessee. UT-San Diego reports that Mathews practiced in pads and a helmet for the first time since he was injured Aug. 9.

Mathews practiced last week in a limited role. Wednesday, Mathews didn’t practice. San Diego coach Norv Turner said that did not indicate a setback, only that Mathews was getting mentally prepared. Thursday’s development signals that Mathews is marching toward the playing field.

Meanwhile, not all was good on the injury front for San Diego. Star tight end Antonio Gates was kept out of practice with sore ribs for a second straight day.