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Chiefs get running back Jamaal Charles more involved in passing game

Updated: 2013-09-16T18:25:18Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

— One play Sunday brought a smile to Dwayne Bowe’s face, and the Chiefs’ top receiver didn’t even have anything to do with it.

It was the first quarter of the Chiefs’ convincing 28-2 win over Jacksonville, and with the Chiefs facing a second-and-six at the Jaguars’ 20-yard line, star running back Jamaal Charles started in the backfield, then flexed out wide like a receiver.

With a linebacker matched up across from him, there was little doubt what was about to happen, at least to Bowe.

“The slant,” Bowe said with a laugh. “Man, he was so excited, he thought he was going to score on that. That's the play he’s been working on all week.”

So much so that Bowe — who was located on the other side of the field — knew the ball was going Charles’ way. He was happy with the result, though, a 15-yard gain in which Charles, who carried the ball 285 times last season, set up an early go-ahead touchdown and looked every bit the receiver coach Andy Reid prefers his running backs to be.

“Oh yeah, I knew I was getting the ball,” Charles said. “They saw a mismatch, and I get great reps and good advice from Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery and Dexter (McCluster) on how to run those routes.”

After catching 37 passes last season, Charles said last week that he’s ready to see that number rise in Reid’s pass-happy offense. He touched the ball plenty Sunday, running 16 times for 77 yards and a touchdown and catching three passes for 23 yards. But Charles also was targeted six times, which indicates a desire to get him even more involved in the passing game.

“He did a nice job, we had a really good blend going,” Reid said. “We used him in the pass game some. He gives us great versatility there. He ran the ball hard, he had the touchdown early. … He played good football.”

Even though at one point, Charles made Chiefs’ fans hearts skip a beat when he got leg-whipped during a run play and had to leave the game with a quad injury. He returned to the game briefly, however, and said afterward that he feels fine.

“I went back in just to see how I feel,” Charles said. “I feel like I could have stayed in, but I think we’ve got a big game next week to be worried about, that I need to get healthy for.”

But with the home opener against Dallas looming, Charles also knows he still has room for improvement in the passing game. He admitted to a few drops Sunday, including one on a flare route that was ruled a backward pass and another in which he admitted he heard footsteps.

“I dropped the one they called a fumble, and I dropped another one” where “I just didn't really want to get hit, tell you the truth,” Charles said. “He was coming real fast, I tried to look it in, but I saw him and tried to catch it, but I dropped him looking at him.”

But interestingly enough, neither one of those drops stood out to his teammates, who prefer to remember Charles’ 15-yard catch on a slant as a sign of things to come.

“It looked like one of my routes, so I’ll give him a nine on that,” Bowe said. “Yeah, that’s good. He’ll only get better at it from here.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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