Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles continues to anchor running back corps

The running back position has been one of the more stable positions over the three-year span since coach Andy Reid arrived.

The Chiefs have a solid group of running backs, but need to find the heir-apparent to Jamaal Charles. In the meantime, the current group will likely not see much of an alteration.

Of note, the Chiefs list second-year pro De’Anthony Thomas as a running back/wide receiver on the offseason roster. Thomas, however, spent a majority of the offseason working with the wide receivers and will not be a part of this assessment.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) runs against the San Diego Chargers during the second half in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) runs against the San Diego Chargers during the second half in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)


Jamaal Charles: The eight-year veteran is inching closer to Father Time and will turn 29 in late December. Long-term running backs typically begin to see production slide between the seventh to ninth years. There are only so many shots a running back can take before their explosiveness begins to elude them.

Charles, who sports a healthy 5.5 yards per carry for his career, has yet to face that obstacle, but his offensive line will be a big determining factor. The former Longhorn is arguably one of the best backs into the league in explosiveness, vision and ability to turn runs that should be a loss into positive yardage.

Charles’ biggest challenge going forward is attempting to maintain his health and limit shots before he hits the running back wall the likes of Chris Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson and countless others have faced over the years.

Knile Davis: The Chiefs drafted Davis in 2013 as a change-of-pace back who could execute in a zone-blocking concept. He is more reliant on his offensive lines’ ability to execute blocks more so than Charles. The Arkansas alumnus needs to continue to improve his vision on finding the open hole and enhancing his ability out of the backfield in the passing game on a more consistent basis.

Charcandrick West: The first thing that stands out about the second-year pro is his speed. The Abilene Christian alumnus needed time to mature on the practice squad last season before being promoted to the active roster in November after Cyrus Gray landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. With Gray still recovering, West took full advantage of his repetitions during the offseason practices. West looked decisive, elusive and determined to take it the distance every time he touched the ball. The key task ahead for West is becoming a very good special teams contributor to force a tough decision between him and Gray.

Cyrus Gray: Gray was unable to participate in the offseason practices while still recovering from a torn ACL. The former sixth-round pick of the 2012 NFL Draft has been a solid special teams contributor the past two seasons. He improved his speed last season and looked more decisive as a runner. Gray vs. West will be one of the more intriguing battles in training camp.

Keshawn Hill: The undrafted free agent out of Sam Houston State has the speed to succeed in the NFL, but he has a stacked depth chart against him. Hill will need time to develop and is likely a practice squad candidate.


Anthony Sherman: Sherman fits the blue-collar mentality that Kansas City fans can identify with. He has been an extremely reliable special teams performer and a solid blocker. He is willing to sacrifice his body for a game-changing block and is serviceable in the passing offense.

Spencer Ware: The Chiefs list Ware as a fullback, but his speed reflects that of a running back. The former LSU Tiger shows promise out of the backfield as a receiver and has the acceleration to make a contribution at the tailback or fullback position.


Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.