Chiefs, Charles still at odds on origin of back’s knee issues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —  Confusion over Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and his problematic knees continues to swirl, with coach Andy Reid standing by earlier characterization of the All-Pro back’s injuries in contrast to what Charles wrote on his website earlier this week.

Sept. 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) turns up the field against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. (Chris Neal/The Topeka Capital-Journal)
Sept. 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) turns up the field against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. (Chris Neal/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

“It was no different than what I mentioned,” Reid said. “You can go back and pull out whatever we said.”

The issues with Charles appeared to materialize on Oct. 20. The next day the team listed Charles questionable for their game against the New Orleans Saints.

“Jamaal’s knee had a little bit of swelling in it yesterday,” Reid said on Oct. 21. “We’re just taking it down for today, but we think everything will be alright as we go.”

Charles disagreed with that description in the blog post he authored on his website,

“The story out in the world was that there was swelling in my knee that held me back, but that’s not what happened,” Charles said. “The knee didn’t swell or anything like that. I didn’t get hurt in a game, either. I got hurt on the practice field.”

The practice at which Reid said Charles developed swelling appears to be the workout Charles specified in his blog. The running back described working through drills with other running backs after practice when his knee locked up.

“It wasn’t painful—there was just something weird about it,” Charles wrote. “It locked up, and I couldn’t walk. I had to be carted off the field.”

Charles did play against the Saints, but carried the ball just once.

Following the Saints game, Charles experienced the knee locking up again while at home playing with his daughter.

“At that point, I started thinking, ‘How am I going to go out on the field and play if I can’t even play with my kids?’ Charles wrote. “My daughter is four years old. If her grabbing my leg is going to cause it to lock up, imagine what would happen if a 300-pound dude fell on me.”

The team placed Charles on injured reserve Nov. 1. The next day Rick Burkholder, the team’s head athletic trainer, said orthopedic surgeon James Andrews would perform exploratory surgery on the running back’s right knee that afternoon.

“After the Oakland game, he had more discomfort than he was having,” Burkholder said then. “That’s when we were going back-and-forth with practice – partial practice, no practice.”

Two days later, Reid revealed Charles had a meniscus trim performed during the surgery.

“Then, as far as Jamaal Charles – Jamaal had his meniscus trimmed, so he’s on IR,” Reid said. “That’s where we’re at with him.”

Charles said the initial surgery went very well.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy I had the surgery because I’m feeling good now, better than I’ve felt all year,” Charles wrote. “I’m getting back to where I need to be, back healthy again.”

Charles said the right knee procedure and the team’s decision to place him on injured reserve led to the decision to undergo surgery on his left knee. Burkholder revealed that surgery took place Nov. 14.

“He’s had his right knee scoped, now he’s had his left knee scoped,” Burkholder said at the time. “The rehab’s the same. We anticipate recovery will be fine. We’ll just see how it goes.”

The timing of the message from Charles appears odd, given teammates find themselves in the middle of a playoff run. But Charles started his blog post with the message that he support his teammates and their mission to win the Super Bowl.

“I’m really proud of this Kansas City Chiefs team, and the things they’re achieving, making their goals come true,” Charles wrote. “I’m thankful to be a part of this organization and this team.”

On that, Reid and Charles appear in sync.

“My concern, and I know his is the same, is that we take care of business right now,” Reid said.


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.