Ryan Mathews has moved piles turned corners and broken tackles in the first three games of the season.

One thing that's missing is the element of surprise.

There is an early trend to the Chargers' usage of their fourth-year running back a shift from the dynamism asked of Mathews in seasons past. Some backs are three-down workhorses asked to shoulder run- and pass-game responsibilities as they come. An intriguing aspect to Sunday's game versus the Cowboys is how Mathews will be utilized.

So far he has been closer to a one-trick pony.

Last week he was on the field for 19 offensive snaps. He carried the ball 17 of them when including a play nullified by a holding penalty. If the Titans were guessing whether Mathews would run the football they would have been correct 89.5 percent of the time.

Balance has been a key component in the Chargers' fast offensive start. They have run 86 first-down plays. Exactly half have been runs. The team has attempted to pass on 57.4 percent of its total downs right in line with the league average.

But thus far for the year Mathews has 47 rushes on 66 snaps including two penalties. The 71.2 percent rate is highest in the NFL. Among the league's 47 other running backs with at least 60 snaps the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams' run frequency is closest at 50.4 percent.