This past offseason, the Chiefs added one of the best free agents available in Thomas Jones. Despite being one of the best running backs in the league last year, the New York Jets decided to cut ties with the still fresh veteran. Jones is coming off the best of his 10 NFL campaigns and is poised to make #11 his sixth consecutive 1,000 yard season.
So far in camp, Jones has looked every bit the player advertised. But putting up the same lofty numbers he has in recent years may be a bit more difficult while sharing the load with emerging star Jamaal Charles.
Charles is coming off a breakout season in which he lead the league with 5.89 yards per carry, starting once the Chiefs exercised the demon known as Larry Johnson from the roster midway through the season.
With the additions of Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegmann, coupled with some emerging young lineman in Darryl Harris and Barry Richardson, Charles should be ready to ascend into the ranks of the top running backs in the NFL.
Thus far, both Jones and Charles have been sharing equal snaps, with both looking very strong. Jones, however, seems to be getting some veteran perks after practice from the training staff. On each day as the team walks back to the locker room from the practice facility, Jones is the lone player riding the golf cart with trainers. This initially created a buzz within the media about a possibility of a concussion or heat related illness, but each day Jones has shown up to practice with the same pop as the day before.
The old man of the group has plenty of NFL life left in him.
The veteran presence of Jones has already helped the Chiefs offense as a whole. Asked about the impact Jones has had on the team so far, Charles said, "He plays a big leadership role on this team...we need that."
Charles is not the only other running back benefiting from Jones' experience. Keshahn Moore has had a very strong camp and much of his success should be contributed to Jones. During
OTAs, Haley said Moore was never more than a few feet away from Jones. Moore has caught my eye many times with his combination of both speed and impressive strength. Haley's offhand comment that Moore "could be the next Walter Payton" may have been an exaggeration, but this young running back has the potential to be a major player in the future for the Chiefs.
With the depth of the running backs, the Chiefs may be able to keep as many as 5 on the active roster, including a fullback. I will not be envious of the coaching staff when they have to make the final cuts because the players cut will almost surely get an opportunity somewhere else.
Fullbacks Mike Cox and Tim Castille will fight out for one roster spot.
Fullbacks Mike Cox and Tim Castille were both kept on the roster in 2009, but it is unlikely the Chiefs will do this again. Both have looked strong, but at this point I get the impression the staff favors Castille, though the book is far from closed on this story.
This leaves one last spot, with Jackie Battle, Tervaris Johnson, and Javarris Williams fighting it out. Of these three, Williams, at this point, is easily the front runner. Throughout camp, Williams has displayed his very aggressive power, but also an ability to shed blockers with his quick yet graceful feet.
Battle has been just as impressive, with his strength being an obvious standout. What Battle brings that Williams does not is the ability to play fullback. This could create some interesting conversations in the coaching room when making the final decisions, but Battle has definitely proven he has what it takes to be a legit NFL running back.
The preseason games should help develop what the coaches will ultimately do with these young running backs, but this should be the toughest decision to make. Ultimately, this is a good problem for this developing offense to have.