If Charles is Hurt, What’s Next For the Chiefs?


Jul 28, 2013; St. Joseph, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) carries the ball during training camp at Missouri Western State University. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The first big piece of bad news struck out of Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp in St. Joe this morning. As was reported first by Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star and picked up by every major football news reporting agency from NFL Network to Arrowhead Addict, of course I’m referring to Jamaal Charles leaving practice early with a foot injury.

While Andy Reid is reporting to the KC media that it was only a foot sprain and nothing to be too concerned about, I feel that the Sea of Red is still on collective pins and needles and holding their breath to find out the true extent of the injury. We’ve lived this nightmare, and nobody wants to endure that again.

While a foot sprain is not nearly as bad as the ACL that took JC25 away from the Chiefs for the entire 2011 season, it’s one of those injuries that could nag and bother him going into the regular season. This dilemma really leaves head coach, Andy Reid and general manager, John Dorsey in a bit of bind. Should they play Charles through the preseason to allow him to acclimate to this new offense? Or, should they sit him for the remainder of the preseason and allow him to heal?

Of course, the flip side of the coin, and more in Dorsey’s area of expertise is the question regarding depth at the running back position. R & D made good strides during the draft by picking up rookie Knile Davis with one of their two third round picks. Although Davis has a big question mark on his back right between the “3” and the “4” regarding his health and ability to hold onto the ball, there’s no doubt he’s able to make big plays.

Behind Davis, incumbents Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray performed admirably last season in the Brian “I’m Only Giving the Ball to JC 5 Times per Game” Dabol offense. While I think that Draughn and Gray are solid back ups, to this point, they haven’t flared with any real show of that starter quality.

So what’s left?

Free agency still has a stable of running backs waiting for a phone call and job. While I wouldn’t consider any of them JC’s equal, there are several who could fill in nicely for him, should he need to take a quarter or half off to rest his foot.

First on the list of potential signees would have to be Michael Turner, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. Last season, turner rushed for 803 yards on 223 carries, scoring 10 touchdowns. He was used primarily as a goal line option and was excellent at punching the ball in for a score inside the five yard line. Turner’s best season was in 2008 when he amassed 1,699 yards on the ground and an incredible 17 TD’s. The downfall with Turner is two fold. First, he would likely be more expensive than the Chiefs could afford. His price tag last year was $5 million a season. Second, he was arrested in June for a DUI reckless driving. While the DUI was dropped, he’s still a potential discipline problem and distraction the Chiefs don’t need.

Behind Turner, the talent pool drops off slightly. I think the next most talented back would be Willis McGahee. The former Denver Bronco/Baltimore Raven/Buffalo Bill has had his ups and downs since his rookie year in 2004, but has proven himself a versatile back. Last season, he stepped into the starting half back role on the Denver Broncos and carried the ball for 731 yards in just 10 games, certainly helping perpetuate the myth that Peyton Manning is unbeatable. The biggest downfall for McGahee is his age. He’s going on 32 which is no spring chicken in the NFL. Still, a one year contract with the Chiefs and the potential to run against his old team after he helped get them to the playoffs might be an attractive offer to an otherwise unemployed stud.

I think the third best option for the Chiefs would be Cedric Benson. The majority of Benson’s up and down career has been spent with the Cincinnati Bengals, where I believe he was underutilized. Still, in that offense, he was able to average 1044 yards per season. While the days are long past of considering 1000 yards a fantastic season for a running back, a guy you only need to plug a hole getting just north of 1K isn’t bad. Again, with many of the free agents still sitting in the unemployment line, Benson has an injury history of his own which definitely gives the prospect a black eye.

The other road block to the Chiefs signing any free agents at this point is their salary cap space. Currently, the Chiefs have the lowest cap space of any team in the NFL with only $82,492 available for the 2013 season. This could change by restructuring deals or making some roster moves, but I’m not sure that Dorsey is willing to do that to make up for a “what if.”

The bottom line here, is while I hold my breath with the rest of the Chiefs Nation, I’m trying to think good thoughts and hold to the hope that #25 will rest up his wheels and be back on the field by Week 1 to juke Jacksonville defenders out of their jock straps.

Until next time, Addicts!