250 and 40 is fine for Ryan Mathews

Some people are surprised San Diego coach Nov Turner is planning on taking a fairly conservative approach to the rookie season of new running back Ryan Mathews.

Turner estimated that Mathews will get 250 carries and 40 receptions as a rookie in San Diego’s pass-first offense. San Diego traded several picks to move up and take Mathews at No. 12 last week.

I looked at the top five rushers in the 2009 regular season and compared their rookie totals to Mathews’ projected numbers. Turner’s estimation fits right in.

Here’s a look:

Here is how San Diego used LaDainian Tomlinson in his rookie season in 2001: 339 carries, 59 catches.

I think Turner’s estimation is fine. You don’t want to overwork or -- even more importantly -- you don’t want to create huge expectations for a rookie. However, if Mathews shows durability and has success, there’s no reason why his numbers can’t end up a little higher. If not, though, 250 carries and 40 catches appear fairly normal for a top running back prospect.