With Larry Johnson serving his one game suspension this weekend, the Chiefs will look to their other running backs to pick up the slack against a Jaguars defense that allowed 305 rushing yards to the Titans last week. Getting the first shot to be the featured back is Jamaal Charles.
“I think this is an opportunity for Jamaal,” Haley said, “without a doubt.”
“I’m ready to go, whatever they give me,” Charles said. “I’ll go out there and try to make plays for the team.
“I’m a running back. I know how to run the ball. Whatever running plays they give me, I’ll be able to do them.”
The Chiefs haven’t used Charles much as a runner. In seven games, Charles has only 23 carries, and most have been draws and other runs out of passing formations. Charles was even a healthy scratch for an early-season game against Oakland.
I’ve been waiting for Charles to have a bigger role in this offense since Week 1. With his fumbling problems — hopefully — behind him, I’ll finally get my wish and it will be against a team that got destroyed on the ground by the Titans. The Chiefs don’t have as good an offensive line as Tennessee and Charles is no Chris Johnson, but he does have big play ability. It will be great to finally see him get a full game to show what he can do.
Kolby Smith is obviously the wild card and could help push LJ off the roster (if Johnson’s mouth didn’t do that already) with a solid return to the field.
It looks like Larry Johnson won’t be the only starter the Chiefs will be without. Free safeties Jarrad Page and Jon McGraw both missed practice yesterday and could miss Sunday’s game in Jacksonville.
Coach Todd Haley wouldn’t talk about Page’s absence other than to say he suffered a new injury in last Thursday’s practice and would disclose more information as soon as today.
McGraw’s injury, which the Chiefs haven’t specified, doesn’t appear as serious as Page’s. But he could also miss the Jaguars game.
Their only other safeties are Mike Brown and DaJuan Morgan. The Chiefs will likely have at least one more safety on their roster by Wednesday, when they resume practice after today’s day off.
It sounds like Page could be headed to the IR which would bet terrible news for the Chiefs. For a unit that battles to prevent big plays, losing one of their most experienced players — especially at a position without depth — would be a huge blow.
After losing to the Titans 30-13, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said he needs to get the ball in the hands of Maurice Jones-Drew more. His solution? QB David Garrard will be told not to call audibles out of running plays.
Garrard changed the play from a run to a pass a few times in the first quarter-and-a-half of the Jaguars’ 30-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, including on their first two offensive plays.
That strategy worked in the first game against the Titans, when Garrard checked from runs to passes and threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-17 victory even though Jones-Drew had just six carries for 14 yards.
It didn’t work Sunday, when Jones-Drew didn’t get his first carry until the first play of the Jaguars’ fourth series. Jones-Drew took a pitch and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
He also ran 79 yards on the Jaguars’ first offensive play of the second half, but he had just eight carries in the game for 177 yards. Garrard passed for only 139 yards, threw two interceptions and had a 35.9 passer rating.
That’s why, later in the game, they Jaguars told Garrard not to check out of running plays.
“We took that privilege away or that ability away and said, “Look, just hand it to him and let him run the ball,’ ” Del Rio said.
“He [Jones-Drew] was getting 22 yards a carry. If we could have gotten him a few more carries, that would have been good for us. I like the times Maurice had the ball in his hands. I think he’s an exciting player. We needed to have more times with the ball in our hands. Again, you can go back and second-guess things all the time. I don’t think that’s the way to go.”
Garrard wasn’t in the locker room Monday during the media period and Jones-Drew, who said after the 41-0 loss to Seattle that they had to run the ball more, was diplomatic.
“We run the plays that are called,” he said.
If the Chiefs are lucky, Garrard will ignore his coach — sort of like the way he did the media after the game — and keep the ball out of MJD’s hands. I was watching the Titans-Jags game and couldn’t believe how little Jones-Drew touched the ball.
The thing is, yes he had the two long runs, but that isn’t the only reason you give him the ball. When he wasn’t breaking a quarter of his runs for a touchdown, he was going for 4, 5, 7 yards. At this point everyone knows he can wear a defense down if you give him 15-20 carries. He might be 5-7 but he is tough to take down and unlike most guys his size never shies away from contact.
It will be a long day for the Kansas City defense if they get a heavy dose of MJD.