Denver Broncos Head Coach Vance Joseph Updates Jamaal Charles' Timeline To Return

The Broncos have a timetable for Jamaal Charles' return to the practice field.

If it wasn't for bad luck, Jamaal Charles would have no luck at all — at least that's how it felt for the final two years of the four-time Pro Bowler's tenure in Kansas City. After eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark in five of the previous six seasons leading up to 2015, Charles fell on hard times. 

He tore his ACL for the first time back in 2011. But he stormed back to have his most prolific season as a rusher in 2012. Charles popped off another couple of 1,000-yard seasons the next two years, before the injury bug jumped up and bit him again. 

Charles tore the ACL in his right knee in October of 2015. He rushed his recovery to make it back for 2016 but never really got over that last ACL tear. 

He had one semi-productive game in Week 5 last year, before suffering another setback. Charles had to undergo yet another surgical procedure — this time to trim his meniscus. Entering his 10th season, Charles has dealt with three major knee injuries, which ultimately caused the Kansas City Chiefs to part ways with him. However, Charles remained adamant that he still had some gas left in the tank. 

The Denver Broncos, looking to add some competition to their running back stable, brought Charles in for a visit a couple weeks back. The Broncos were confident in the medical check team doctors performed and signed Charles to a one-year deal worth up to $3.75 million. 

If healthy, Charles is a game-changing talent. But how soon can the Broncos expect him out on the grass? Head Coach Vance Joseph spoke to the issue at John Lynch's Salute to the Stars charity event on Friday. 

“We’re hoping to get Jamaal full speed by training camp," Joseph said. "He’s going to rehab and have some time to get healthy during the entire OTAs and the entire summer. Our goal for Jamaal is to have him on the field during training camp.”

In Mike McCoy's offense, Charles could be an explosive weapon — both as a rusher and as a receiver out of the backfield. But it's all contingent on him being healthy and there are real concerns around the league that Charles' knees will ever be right enough to return to his form of yore. 

“Jamaal Charles has been a great player for a long time in this league in division," Joseph said. "He’s been injured the last couple years. It’s our goal to get Jamaal healthy and if he’s healthy, he’s going to provide a spark in the element of speed that we needed as far as being an explosive offense."

Charles' biggest impact for the Broncos could take a collateral form. If he can push C.J. Anderson — who always seems to rise to the occasion when he perceives doubt externally or internally and true competition — the Broncos could finally get the type of return on investment they envisioned when they matched Anderson's offer sheet from the Miami Dolphins last spring. 

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Anderson signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Broncos in March of 2016, with $7.6 million guaranteed. Anderson saw action in just seven games before suffering a knee injury of his own that ended his season. 

The Broncos have added talent to their running back group through the last two Drafts — 2016 fourth-rounder Devontae Booker and 2017 sixth-rounder De'Angelo Henderson. All things being equal, there should be plenty of competition at the position this summer. 

“Every position on our football team is going to be competitive and that’s the way you want it every year," Joseph said. "You want guys to come in and compete for the job every year. Obviously, there are the guys that will win the job, and the guys who don’t will be capable backups. Every spot on the football team is going to be a competition. The running back position; you need two or three guys that can carry the load. It is no longer a one-guy position. I’m excited to have Jamaal, C.J., Book, even De’Angelo in the mix there. It’s a good group. It’s going to be competitive, and that’s the way it should be.”

If the Football Gods smile on the Broncos, and both Jamaal Charles and C.J. Anderson emerge from training camp healthy, the team's rushing woes will be a thing of the past, especially after investing heavily to beef up the offensive line in free agency and the NFL Draft. 

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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