With Chiefs running back Larry Johnson suspended — pending an appeal — for the next two weeks, the door has been opened Dantrell Savage, Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles.
Savage has worked primarily this season as a kick returner. Smith, who spent the first six weeks on the physically-unable-to-perform list, said he trusts his knee enough to return and take on upward of 20 carries per game. He’s in the second week of a three-week window the Chiefs can observe his progress and gauge his health. The Chiefs have this week and next to decide whether to activate Smith, release him or place him on injured reserve. Smith said he hopes that coaches see that he’s ready.
Charles doesn’t hurt for confidence, either, saying he’s ready to be the Chiefs’ featured rusher.
“I want the ball. I want to make plays,” said Charles, a second-year player who has shown flashes of immense talent but also a habit of fumbling. “People see it, too: I’m a winner. I make stuff happen.
“Put me in. Give me some plays where I can help the team out. When I get the torch in my hand, I’m going to help my team out as much as possible.”
You have to love Charles’ attitude, especially with the offensive line he is playing behind. You want players to have that kind of mind set at all times, but it’s easy for someone to get beat down when the team is losing and there are few holes being opened for you (see: Johnson, Larry).
As long as his knee holds up over the next week, I would have no problem to see the Chiefs take on Jacksonville with Smith and Charles carrying the rushing load. It should also force Haley to start running the ball outside more, something that isn’t a strength of LJ’s but is perfect for both Charles and Smith.