Charles was already going through rehab for the same injury sustained earlier that season.
Now, four years later, Peterson is returning the favor.
The Minnesota Vikings running back said Wednesday he will invite Charles to work out with him in the offseason — both are native Texans who return home during the summer. The idea is that he could help push Charles through rehab after his second torn ACL sustained last Sunday.
“I hate for him to go down like that, my guy go down,” said Peterson, whose Vikings host the Chiefs on Sunday. “He’s been through it before with his left knee and now he knows what to expect doing his rehab. That’s one positive.”
Charles tore the ACL in his right knee early in the 2011 season, while Peterson was hurt in December. Both of them were back on the field by the start of the next season.
Still, there are no guarantees with such a devastating injury, particularly to a running back whose speed is his biggest asset. While Charles was able to overcome his first torn ligament, the surgery and rehab required four years later may not leave him the same player as before.
“I would caution you in trying to compare the last injury to this one, and who’s made it back and how fast they made it back,” Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Wednesday.
The Chiefs have already spoken with noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery on Charles four years ago. Andrews likely will handle this procedure as well.
“It looks like he’s leaning that way, going down there to have it done,” Burkholder said. “(Charles) has already been through some rehab sessions here to get ready.”
Charles was hurt early in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to Chicago, when he made a jump cut and his right knee buckled. He immediately reached for his right knee, and never put weight on it as he was helped off the field. The Chiefs confirmed the torn ACL after an MRI on Monday.
The injury not only deprives the Chiefs (1-4) of their biggest playmaker, but also the most consistent performer on an inconsistent offense.
Charles averages more than 5 yards per carry, and his ability to loosen up defenses is helpful to quarterback Alex Smith, who has yet to prove that he can carry the Chiefs on the strength of his right arm.
The Chiefs worked out several running backs, including former Texans rusher Ben Tate, but decided to elevate Spencer Ware from the practice squad. The former LSU star will be part of a running back-by-committee approach with Knile Davis and Charcandrick West.
“They all need to work together and do their thing,” Reid said. “Right now, it’s about being a productive offense, and you narrow that down to being productive at that position. And I think we have guys who are capable of doing that.”
All three running backs offer a different look.
Davis is a bruising, downhill runner who has enough top-end speed that the Chiefs have used him to return kicks. West is a smaller, elusive running back who more closely resembles Charles, and Ware is a combination of the two who has also played fullback.
“I mean, Coach Reid is a genius. He makes us fit into his offense. He puts us where we need to be, the right spots,” West said. “I feel like we all have the same skillset: We’re running backs. We all come out and do the same things every day.”
While the trio presses on with what is quickly becoming a lost season for the Chiefs, Charles will be turning his attention to surgery and rehab. In most cases, a player is back on the field in about a year, but Charles beat that timeframe the previous time he did this.
And with Peterson pushing him, there’s a good chance he could do that again.
“It’s really, initially, assessing it for what it is, and not beating yourself up over what you could have done differently,” Peterson said. “Get your game plan, your moves, your steps and go after it, because it is what it is now. What are you going to do to come back?”
Notes: DT Dontari Poe sustained a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s game. Reid did not know whether he will be available against the Vikings. … LB Josh Mauga (lower leg injury) also did not practice Wednesday after missing last week’s game against the Bears.