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“Whatever it is,” Charles said when asked how much he could carry the ball on Sunday. “I’m not backing down from any situation. I’m here and I’m not going (anywhere). I’ve been in every preseason game this year. That tells you a lot right there.

“I’m worried about the Falcons. I’m not worried about my knee. The only thing I’m worried about is staying healthy the whole season.”

Charles’ rehab has gone about as well as the Chiefs could have hoped. He played in a preseason game about 10 months after surgery, and it appeared he could have played in one much sooner.

“I felt great playing in the preseason games, getting a feel, moving around, making the moves I used to make out there,” Charles said. “Every week I was trying to get better and better. I’m 11 months right now. I’m not even a year (since) my surgery. So I’m back earlier than some people are.”

With Gonzalez making his first (and final) return to Arrowhead Stadium since the trade, Arenas understands his connection to the deal will be brought to light in Sunday’s broadcast.

“I don’t really look at it that way,” Arenas said of being linked to Gonzalez. “He is his own man and he has his own legacy. I understand that I’m a small part of it being the pick that was part of that trade, but he is who he is and I’m trying to build my own career.”

As for defending Gonzalez, Arenas hasn’t seen much decline in the 36-year old tight end.

“He’s the greatest tight end to ever play the game is always going to be a threat, so you have to respect that,” Arenas said. “To me, he’s just as good right now as he was back here when he was in his prime. He’s still a dominant tight end in my eyes.”

One landmark Gonzalez hasn’t visited recently is Arrowhead Stadium. A lot has changed since his final home game as a Chief against the Dolphins on December 21, 2008. Gonzalez went out with seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in a frigid farewell to the Chiefs crowd.

“It’s going to be a little weird being in a different locker room and coming out of that tunnel when we first come in, ,” Gonzalez said of Sunday’s season opener against the Chiefs. “It’s going to be a little weird, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Gonzalez left Kansas City as the franchise’s all-time leader in every major receiving category with 916 catches for 10,940 yards and 73 touchdowns. No one comes close to threatening any of those marks.

Gonzalez comes back to Arrowhead Stadium with the Atlanta Falcons for the season opener, and Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel talked today about that challenge.

“He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got hands, he’s got savvy,’’ Crennel said. “He can pose a lot of problems, particularly with the other weapons they have. If you double (cover) Tony, then you leave the other guys singled up. If you single Tony, Tony can get open. You have to pick your poison and try to keep the opposing quarterback off balance and give him a couple different things to look at.’’

A tumultuous season saw Romeo Crennel take over as coach for Todd Haley for the final three games. The Chiefs won two of them, handing the Packers their lone regular-season defeat in Crennel’s debut and helping him earn the permanent job.

Crennel, however, faces a new set of problems with his defense. The unit will be without linebacker Tamba Hali, suspended for the opener for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse.

Linebacker Derrick Johnson is bothered by a bad ankle, cornerback Brandon Flowers has a bum heel, safety Kendrick Lewis is dealing with a shoulder injury and backup cornerback Jalil Brown has been trying to recover from a groin strain.

If Flowers and Brown do not play, veteran Jacques Reeves could be called upon to shadow either White or Jones. It’s also hard to know what to expect from safety Eric Berry, a Pro Bowler in his 2010 rookie season who is coming back from a torn ACL.

“Other guys have to step up and they have to be relentless,” Crennel said. “Like Eric Berry, he’s going to be relentless with or without Tamba. I think other guys will have to play the same way.”

1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: It says something about the high calibre of the Chiefs defence that it managed to finish 11th in the league last season without injured safety Eric Berry, who was a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie.

A torn ACL cost Berry all but one game last season, but the No. 5 overall pick in 2010 is back in the lineup for a defence that includes linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson and defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey.

Also back from injuries are tailback Jamaal Charles and quarterback Matt Cassell. Charles missed almost the entire season with an ACL tear, and Cassell had surgery on his right (throwing) hand.

Rookie to watch: DT Dontari Poe, Memphis, Rd. 1 .

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