With Johnson out of the picture, Kolby Smith's status uncertain, and Dantrell Savage being the only other available running back currently on the active roster, the responsibility of a productive running game lies predominantly on Charles' shoulders this week.
"Jamaal's his own person, and he's got a great opportunity here, and I know he's excited about it," said head coach Todd Haley. "He had a good day today, and he's hopefully going to grab this opportunity by the horns, pardon the pun with the Texas (Longhorns), and do something with it."
Examining Charles' young career, it appears the only thing he's lacked has been opportunities. Charles averaged 5.8 yards per carry as a rookie last season and is averaging 5.0 this season. Impressive numbers, even if he hasn't been KC's workhorse.
His athleticism has never been in question. As a freshman at Texas, Charles was arguably the most impressive back in the Longhorns' platoon system that included Selvin Young and Romance Taylor. His speed is unquestionable, and that coupled with his 5-foot-11, 199-pound frame, makes him reminiscent of another NFL speedster- Tennessee's Chris Johnson, who goes 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds.
"Chris Johnson is a special back, obviously, but there are some similarities there," said Haley. "I know that coach Carthon, whenever he has guys that are similar in stature, I know he put a tape together of Chris Johnson, but way before this game, for Jamaal to watch."
What did Charles see in Johnson's game that he can incorporate into his own?
"Just speed, beating people around the corners, making people miss, shaking people and getting to the second level," he said. "Once he gets to the second level, it's hard to bring him down, and hard to catch him from behind. Hopefully I can get in the open field, make somebody miss, break a tackle, get to the second level, and get into the end zone."
Johnson did all of the above last year on his way to an electric rookie season, averaging nearly five yards per carry, gaining over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns. He's avoided a sophomore slump in 2009 - averaging nearly seven yards per carry and over 117 a game.
Just last week, Johnson torched the Jacksonville Jaguars for 228 yards on nine carries (an astounding 9.5 yards a carry) and two touchdowns. Johnson plays for the 1-6 Titans, Charles plays for the 1-6 Chiefs. Johnson had a career day against the Jags after a bye week. Charles is getting his fourth career start against Jacksonville, coming off a bye week.
Is it too much of a stretch do say Charles could post Johnson-like numbers this Sunday? Given KC's offensive offensive-line play, probably. However, it's possible Charles could have a career day of his own. All it would take is 107 rushing yards.
"If we block well, you can run against any team, you've just to go out there and do it," said Charles. "You got to have heart and the mindset to do those things."
Charles Ready For Opportunity Against Jaguars
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