Chiefs miss Charles, hope for speedy re­turn

SundayXtra - - SPORTS NFL - By Dave Skretta

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs got a rude re­minder of what life could be like with­out Pro Bowl run­ning back Ja­maal Charles in their pre­sea­son loss to San Fran­cisco.

They strug­gled to move the ball on the ground. They strug­gled to pro­tect Alex Smith in the pass­ing game. Re­ally, they strug­gled to do much of any­thing on of­fence the en­tire night.

The re­sult was a 15- 13 de­feat that left the Chiefs win­less in their first two pre­sea­son games un­der coach Andy Reid. But both games come with a sig­nif­i­cant as­ter­isk: Charles only played one se­ries in the opener against New Or­leans, and not at all on Fri­day night, when he was held out of the 49ers game with a lin­ger­ing strain of his right foot.

“He’ll prac­tise to­mor­row and we’ll see how he does,” Reid said on a con­fer­ence call Satur­day af­ter­noon. “We’ll see how it works out for him to­mor­row. He needs work — I mean, they all need to work. But we’ll see how he feels to­mor­row.”

Reid wouldn’t say whether Charles will be avail­able next week­end in Pitts­burgh.

“We’ll see how he does to­mor­row,” Reid said. “Tak­ing it day- by- day. We’ll see.”

Charles hurt his right foot when he stepped on a team­mate in prac­tice last week. He didn’t suit up again the rest of the week, but took part in sev­eral re­hab drills away from the team.

He worked out again be­fore Fri­day night’s game, but Reid said he didn’t want to risk fur­ther in­jury by al­low­ing him to play in the game. In­stead, Charles spent most of the night help­ing rookie run­ning back Knile Davis, who got most of the reps with the No. 1 of­fence.

Davis showed some flashes, too. He ran for 37 yards while catch­ing a team- best three passes for 31 yards, in­clud­ing a 17- yarder that was among the Chiefs’ big­gest plays all night.

The Chiefs only man­aged 170 yards to­tal of­fence in the game.

“I had fun out there,” Davis said. “Ja­maal stayed down on the side­line help­ing me out, try­ing to coach me through things, telling me what to look for and I think I did pretty good.”

Still, it wasn’t the same as hav­ing Charles on the field.

He re­turned from a dev­as­tat­ing knee in­jury last sea­son to run for more than 1,500 yards for an of­fence that was oth­er­wise among the worst in the NFL. Twice, Charles ran for more than 200 yards in a game, show­ing the kind of break­away speed that makes him one of the best in the league.

If there was any ques­tions about where he’d fit in Reid’s new- look sys­tem, they were an­swered in the Chiefs’ pre­sea­son opener in New Or­leans. He touched the ball on eight of the 14 plays the No. 1 of­fence was on the field, cap­ping an 80- yard drive with a short touch­down run. All that ef­fi­ciency seemed to dis­ap­pear with Charles stand­ing on the side­line, though.

The 49ers de­fence had to worry less about the run­ning game, and that gave them the green light to blitz the quar­ter­back. Smith and the rest of the Chiefs’ sig­nal- call­ers were sacked a com­bined seven times, the big­gest rea­son that the of­fence strug­gled to get on track.

Wide re­ceiver Dwayne Bowe was tar­geted only once all night, even though the first- team of­fence played the en­tire first half. In fact, only one wide re­ceiver caught more than one pass in the game, and that was backup Ja­mar New­some — a long shot to make the ros­ter.

“We didn’t get into the rhythm we got into last week,” Smith said. “It’ll be good to look at. I think we cer­tainly left a lot out there, a lot of re­ally eas­ily fix­able things.”

In other in­jury news, Reid said that right tackle Eric Fisher — the No. 1 over­all pick in the April draft — would miss prac­tice to­day with a sore right shoul­der.

Rookie tight end Travis Kelce has a bruised knee, cor­ner­back Dunta Robin­son has an AC sprain in his shoul­der, and New­some has a sprained an­kle and ail­ing shoul­der. None of them are ex­pected to do much work in com­ing days.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ja­maal Charles

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