KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Running back Jamaal Charles returned to the Chiefs in a limited role against the Pittsburgh Steelers before the team’s bye week, but now the veteran believes himself ready to resume the lion’s share of the team’s work out of the backfield.
Don’t believe it? Just ask Charles himself.
“I’m ready,” Charles said. “Tell them to let the training wheels off me. I know how to ride now, so take them off and let me ride.”
The All-Pro back played 10 snaps against the Steelers in week four, picking up seven yards rushing on two carries. Despite his team’s lopsided loss, Charles said he had fun playing again.
“I tell everybody, ‘I’m not worrying about getting hit. I’ve been getting hit my whole life,’” Charles said. “I just needed to get in a game and get the rhythm of the game and get the feeling back cause I’ve been gone.”
Coach Andy Reid expects Charles to fully participate in practice this week. He slowly built up his workload in recent weeks sharing time with the starting offense and the scout team.
The Chiefs remain steadfast in their commitment to ease Charles back into action, and Reid continued expressing caution as to how much he expects his star to play.
“As long as there are no setbacks, he’ll probably do a little bit more,” Reid said.
Count quarterback Alex Smith among the teammates ready to see Charles running wild.
“He can do things not many guys can do, so anytime you can add somebody of that caliber,” Smith said. “Then a guy that, just as far as a leader, a lot of guys look up to, through his work ethic, the way he goes about his business, his approach on game days, all the way round. Great to have him back.”
Smith said the return of Charles adds a powerful punch to the Chiefs offense.
“I think the more weapons the better, and certainly in our backfield right now we’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays,” Smith said. “Getting him back in the mix, he’s just such a unique player, such a unique skill set.”
Charles suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in week five of the 2015 season, making it almost one year since his injury. This marks the second return for Charles from an ACL injury.
He said the past year proved difficult, but said his teammates motivated him to return to his Pro Bowl form.
“I saw the team last year, how much success they had, how much fun they had, they were like a family,” Charles said. “I wanted to be a part of that. Not being apart of that, being away and rehabbing, that kind of motivated me.”
The running back placed a premium on his spiritual recovery during his hiatus from football that he says makes him happier and ready to pick up where he left off last October.
“I feel like God won’t give me nothing that I can’t handle,” Charles explained. “I understand that. I’m a stronger person as well, so I’m not worrying about my knee. I’m just ready to play football to tell you the truth.”
While Charles says his running speed and agility have returned to peak performance, he admits that he needs playing time to feel comfortable as the team’s featured back.
“Last time I came back I didn’t get better until week five or week six,” Charles said. “Just let me play and it’s going to come when it comes.”