Chargers C Hardwick cleared after concussion

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm •  Published: January 10, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Center Nick Hardwick was cleared to work out five days after sustaining a concussion and was a limited participant as the San Diego Chargers practiced for the final time for their divisional-round playoff game at Denver.

Hardwick said he was cleared just before practice started late Friday morning.

"We'll see how we respond in the next day or two and go from there," Hardwick said. "It's always a good step. We're moving in the right direction but we'll see how you wake up and how the rest of the day goes."

Hardwick was hurt in Sunday's wild-card win at Cincinnati and replaced by Rich Ohrnberger.

He was listed as questionable on the injury report, meaning the Chargers feel he has a 50-50 chance of playing.

"I'm always confident. How could you not be?" Hardwick said.

Hardwick has had concussions before.

"It's not ever something you want to be dealing with but it's part of football. This isn't my first rodeo," he said. "We'll see how we go. No guarantees. You never know how things are going to unfold here.

Running back Ryan Mathews didn't practice all week and also was listed as questionable. He left Sunday's victory in the third quarter and didn't return. He's been bothered by the ankle injury since a victory against Oakland on Dec. 22. Mathews rushed for 144 yards in a victory against Kansas City the next week that helped the Chargers earn the AFC's final playoff berth.

Mathews was a big reason why the Chargers beat the Broncos in Denver on Dec. 12. He ran 29 times for 127 yards and one touchdown as the Chargers controlled the ball in the 27-20 win.

Mathews said his mindset was the same as earlier in the week, that he wants to play. He said he watched practice and took mental reps.

"I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help my team," he said of playing through the injury.

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