|Antonio Gates, who missed last Sunday's game against the Titans with a rib injury, practiced in full pads Thursday and is expected to play Sunday against the Falcons. (Dan McLellan)|
Mathews had not fully participated in a padded practice since he broke his right clavicle on August 9.
“Ryan looks outstanding,” coach Norv Turner said following Thursday's practice. “I think he has done a great job staying on top of what we are doing. He took enough reps that I think we tested his conditioning. He looked good. So, I think we are making the progress that I hoped to see us make.”
Turner was also pleased with the progress Gates has made in healing from a rib injury that kept him out of last Sunday's game.
“Gates had a good practice today,” Turner said. “The reps that Gates got, he was full speed and looked good.”
The Chargers' practice report was one of the cleanest in the past three seasons. LT Jared Gaither (back spasms) and CB Shareece Wright (ankle) didn't practice, but every other player was at full participation.
“We are fortunate,” Turner said. “What we have been through in the last two years, I don't take anything for granted.”
Turner elaborated that the limited injuries has helped keep other players fresh. “When everyone is practicing and everyone is taking their reps, no one gets worn down.”
Mental game for Mathews: Mathews worked with a blocking sled and ran through the blaster, which simulates getting hit. Those are two drills he skipped a week ago. Mathews said physically he feels like he never got injured. “I really don't think there is anything I need to catch up on,” he said. “If I get a chance to play, it's going to be more mental than physical. I got the physical down, but in my head [I will] still [be thinking], ‘Man I broke my bone a little bit a go.' So, it's in the back of your mind. But I will be all right.”
Corners will have to play tight: Falcons QB Matt Ryan has a 70.1 completion percentage and has not thrown an interception this season. Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said his cornerbacks are going to have to play tight coverage and the defensive front will need to put pressure on Ryan in order to force a turnover. “[Ryan] is such an accurate passer,” Pagano said. “He places it where his guys can go and get it. It's going to be a challenge for us.”
"Old" rookie gets unlikely chance: WR Marques Clark, 28, was signed to the practice squad on Thursday. Clark has spent the last six years out of professional football and recently was the wide receivers coach for Westview High School in his hometown of San Diego.
Clark received an invite to the Saints training camp this year after QB Drew Brees saw him work out at Westview High. “[Brees] comes every offseason during the summer,” Clark said. “I worked out [in New Orleans] for about a month, then came back home.”
Clark had just finished up a workout at a gym in Rancho Penasquitos, not far from Chargers Park, when he received a call Thursday morning informing him of the offer to sign. “I'll be there in nine minutes,” Clark told the caller. He then canceled his afternoon plans to play Madden NFL with his friends. Joining the Chargers will also mean missing a trip to Las Vegas this weekend with his family to celebrate his grandparent's anniversary.
Injury report -- Did not practice: LT Jared Gaither and CB Shareece Wright (ankle). RB Curtis Brinkley (knee), TE Antonio Gates (ribs) and TE Dante Rosario (calf) were limited on Wednesday, but returned to full participation on Thursday.
Transaction: WR Chris Owusu was released from his practice squad contract so that he could join the Buccaneers active roster. WR Marques Clark was then signed.
What's next: The Chargers will conclude their preparations for the Falcons with a walk-through practice on Friday morning.