Survival In The Backfield … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

He stood in front of his locker on Thursday afternoon looking down at his hands and turning them over, flexing his fingers and rubbing the backs of his hands.

Jamaal Charles won’t be 24 years old until two days after Christmas. But he has the hands of an old man. There are bruises all over his hands and what looks like a healing cut near his left thumb. There is discoloration across all of his knuckles and the outside of his right hand looks a bit swollen.

And, he wears gloves when he plays!

“Nah, I don’t do anything special for my hands,” Charles was saying as he headed off to the showers. “Every guy in this room has problems with their hands. They get chewed up playing football.”

Charles held up his hands for inspection. “See, mine aren’t too bad,” he says of his fingers that are all generally aligned as they were when he was born. “Yeah, they look pretty good now.”

The key word there is now. In his third NFL season, Charles has carried the ball as a runner, receiver and returner a total of 568 times in 42 games, or an average of 13.5 times per game. The collisions of the game have scraped him up, but there have been no major dents to his armor. He had major shoulder surgery in the off-season, but that was to correct a problem that first popped up when he was playing at the University of Texas.

Jamaal Charles – he’s still a baby in the world of NFL running backs.

“I’ve just been working hard and trying to use the talent that God gave me,” Charles said. “I know those gifts can be taken away at any time.”

Those gifts have been paying off in big numbers for Charles and the Chiefs. They are 11 games into the 2010 season and Charles is No. 2 in the league in rushing yards with 1,021 yards on 161 carries. He’s 126 yards behind Arian Foster of Houston who sits in the first spot. Charles is No. 2 in yards from scrimmage with 1,380 yards, trailing only Foster who has 1,600 yards.

QB Matt Cassel may be the AFC’s offensive player of the month for November and WR Dwayne Bowe is throwing up numbers every week that are rewriting the Chiefs record book. But the man who makes the Chiefs offense go is the Charles. The offense’s goal each week is to run the ball, and while Thomas Jones leads the team with 176 carries, it is Charles that is making more out of his chances with the football than any offensive player on the team.

And that’s because of the improvements he’s made over the last two years. It took one of those visits to Todd Haley’s dog house for Charles back in September 2009 to change his attitude and approach.

“I don’t think there are many people that can run the way that he runs,” said Haley. “He just glides, he runs as fast and easy as I have ever seen anybody run. He is developing and he has worked hard at developing and it is not just his physical being, it is mental. Listening to Jamaal talk and what is important to him now, he has grown up before our eyes.”

Generally running backs that have the type of collisions Charles suffers every week develop a special program for keeping their bodies functioning. It generally involves a lot of athletic massage, time in cold tubs and almost daily sessions with chiropractors, or other physical therapists.

Call it the ignorance of youth but Charles does not do any of those things. No massage, no cold tubs and no back crackers; about the only thing special that he does is have his feet rubbed.

“I don’t worry about my upper body at all,” Charles said. “I just worry about my legs and really my feet. If my feet feel good, then I feel good.

“If you play football, the injuries are going to come. You are going to get hit. All you can do is try to protect yourself, jumping out of bounds or getting down when you are about to get hit.”

And Charles gets hit. Maybe it’s because he’s moving so fast, but some of the collisions he has with defensive players on the field makes you wonder if he’s going to get up.

The mere suggestion that he might at some point not get up, had Haley cursing the question.

“I know he is tough,” Haley said. “He is mentally tough, he is physically tough and he has become so much more mentally tough, that is where the change has occurred. I think everyone has it in them and it takes really good coaching to sometimes bring out that aspect of mental toughness.”

Charles thinks his speed makes some of those hits he takes a little less lethal.

“With the forces that come with my speed, my opponent feels it more than I do,” Charles said. “That’s why I hop up so fast after I get hit. They are feeling it.”

The situation may have been different last Sunday if Charles went over 1,000 yards at home. But there was little recognition of his performance in Seattle or even with his head coach and teammates.

“I’ve done that before,” Charles said of a 1,000-yard season. “I want more. I want to keep it going. I want more. All I care about is winning. That’s all that’s important.”


Right now, the National Weather Service is calling for what looks like a pleasant Sunday afternoon for football at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Sunday afternoon forecast is: mostly sunny, with high near 33 degrees. Light winds.

CHIEFS GO AFTER LIONS reported on Thursday that the Chiefs have filed tampering charges against the Detroit Lions.

No details of the complaint to the league were made public and often these matters disappear into the NFL ether after time. A person familiar with the allegation told the Detroit Free-Press the grievance involves former Chiefs/now Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and former Chiefs/now New England safety Jarrad Page.

“They keep wanting to dump players,” Cunningham said back in February. “I would like to be there to catch a lot of them, because I know a couple of those guys.”

Page and the Chiefs went through months of no communication over the tender offer made to him as a restricted free agent. He wanted out for over a year. The Lions were in need of a safety and it seemed a match made in heaven.

But the Lions never made an offer to the Chiefs for Page. Eventually, he signed his tender offer and was traded the same day to New England.

If the tampering charge is upheld, the Lions could be fined or penalized by losing a draft choice. That draft choice would simply be forfeited and would not go to the Chiefs.


  • AFC – named Chiefs QB Matt Cassel the offensive player of the month; Ravens LB Terrell Suggs defensive player of the month and Raiders returner Jacoby Ford as special teams player of the month.
  • NFC – named Falcons QB Matt Ryan offensive player of the month and Eagles K David Akers special teams player of the month.
  • NFL – named Browns CB Joe Haden the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for November.
  • BENGALS – placed RE Antwan Odom on the injured reserve list (wrist) ending his season; re-signed DE Victor Adeyanju.
  • BILLS – placed DE Dwan Edwards on the injured-reserve list (hamstring) endinghis season; signed TE Mike Caussin off the Jaguars practice squad; claimed TE Scott Chandler off waivers from the Cowboys.
  • 49ERS – signed K Jeff Reed, last with Steelers.
  • JAGUARS – placed LB Jacob Cutrera on the injured-reserve list (concussion) ending his season; signed LB Slade Norris off their practice squad.
  • LIONS – placed K Jason Hanson on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed CB Tye Hill, last with Titans.
  • PATRIOTS – placed RG Stephen Neal on the injured-reserve list (shoulder) ending his season; claimed RB Thomas Clayton off waivers from the Browns.
  • STEELERS – starting QB Ben Roethlisberger has a broken bone in his foot, but he’s expected to start on Sunday night against Baltimore.
  • RAIDERS – placed QB Bruce Gradkowski on the injured-reserve list (shoulder) ending his season; signed QB J.T. O’Sullivan.

10 Responses to “Survival In The Backfield … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 3, 2010  - Chuck says:

    Does anyone know, what was our compensation for sending PAGE to the Patriots???

  • December 3, 2010  - Dave says:

    At first I hated to see Charles split carries with Jones, but now I see why and it’s obviously working out well. We need to keep this young man as healthy as we can for as long as we can…he will be the backbone for our team for years to come.

  • December 3, 2010  - el cid says:

    Just wondering, anyone? Dion Gales, Chiefs list him with 1 year experience, thought he was in the NFL longer than a rookie. NFL Channel says Chiefs released a RB nambed Moore, vaguely remember him, practice squad, injured or what?, anyone replace him?

  • December 3, 2010  - Edward says:

    This organization is very fortunate to have another star running back after Holmes and LJ. That’s real cool to see Charles emerging as a star. Hopefully he is one of many Chiefs to get pro bow selection this season. He along with Bowe, Johnson, Tamba, and even Cassel all deserve to go. No question Charles is backbone of this offseason.

    Chuck we got 7th rd pick for Page

  • December 3, 2010  - el cid says:

    Pro bowl is a strange situation. Some selected keep getting in long past their “all pro” days, it seems to me. The Chiefs jumped into the scene this year, so not sure how many have names that get them the recognition they deserve. So many of you reminded me, ad naseum, how the Pioli plan needed years to develope, fear the selectors may look at the team the same way and pass this year. UNLESS the Chiefs keep winning and go deep into the playoffs or heaven’s forbid reach the superbowl, then look out and everyone will “have known it all the time” (how great the ’10 team preformed).

  • December 3, 2010  - PAChiefsFan says:

    I know it is probably because I am tired from the work week and just ready for the weekend, and hopefully a Chiefs victory but I am not getting the connection between the Lions and the Chiefs and Page who went to the Patriots. What is the beef? Some additional help for us slow people please Bob.

  • December 3, 2010  - Nate says:

    For those of you who would like to know more about Scott Pioli there is a terrific article written by Joe Posnowski in the Dec. 6th issue of Sports illustrated.

  • December 3, 2010  - Dan-NY says:

    PAChiefs, some total speculation on my part:
    KC sends feelers out for starting-but injured DB Page during spring/summer 2009. Page was originally drafted as a 7th-rounder but Pioli’s asking draftchoice price is apparently too high to get suitable offers for him.

    Page wants out of KC and is repped by his neophyte-agent brother. Bro is told (or it’s heavily implied) by Lions they’ll give Page some sweet deal if Page manages to be cut from KC — just like his backfield buddy Pollard was. Bro advises Page who refuses to sign his tender, ignores OTA’s, and is generally uncooperative to attempt to have KC be done with him. The attitude further devalues his appeal to any other teams considering an offer to KC, and so the entire NFL sits back to wait for KC to cut him.

    Ultimately this fails. Bro failed to clearlyy understand that KC owns Page’s rights and therefore ALL paths for him to play in the NFL — and KC is prepared to let him rot out of the league rather than cut him. Finally a deal is brokered with NE. KC and Page get something, but neither gets what each wanted. KC files claim with NFL that the Lions’ alleged ‘insider trading’ type of communication with Page created situation that reduced street value of KC’s player.

    Again, all speculation.

  • December 3, 2010  - Dan-NY says:

    Crap. Spring/summer 2010 of course, not 2009.

  • December 4, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Dan-NY–Interesting speculation and quite possibly what happened.
    As to JC’s hands, a long time ago Jim Brown, who walked away from the game at 29, remarked that his hands were so beat up he could not use them to turn a door handle. Unfortunately for most former NFL players, c’est la vie.

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