Running back Jamaal Charles didn’t practice with the Chiefs on Tuesday, but trainer Rick Burkholder said Charles’ strained right foot injury wasn’t serious and that he could be back to work as soon as today.
“When we say day-to-day, he’s literally day-to-day,” Burkholder said Tuesday. “That’s how coach (Andy) Reid and I work. We’ll evaluate him this afternoon. He will get treatment all day today. We will evaluate him tomorrow.
“Sometimes these guys do partial practices. We may get him out here and move him around. He may take the whole (practice). We may hold him back, depending on his symptoms. We don’t determine anything the night before. That frees the doctors and my crew to look at him and use our best judgment, and then we go from there.”
Charles turned his ankle during a play in Monday’s practice. Burkholder said tests showed Charles’ ankle ligaments to be OK, but Charles had pain in the outside bone of the foot. X-rays were negative.
“There’s a tendon that attaches right at that spot,” Burkholder said. “That’s what’s sore right now. That’s why we call it a strain. Today, he’s sore up his leg, and that’s natural. We expected to see that.”
Burkholder said the Chiefs have ruled out a Lisfranc injury for Charles. That type of injury could be season-ending and even career-threatening.
“People are speculating Lisfranc and all that,” Burkholder said. “He doesn’t have any discomfort there. I’ve had him see two orthopedic surgeons, and everybody’s on the same page. He’s got a mild foot strain and he’s day-to-day.”
Charles arrived at practice Tuesday just as the Chiefs were about to begin their session. He was not wearing a boot or any other kind of protection on his injured foot, but he wasn’t dressed in pads like his teammates and headed over to the medical tent on the sideline with other injured players.
He worked on an exercise bike for a short time, using only the hand levers and not pedaling, before leaving the field long before practice was finished.
The Chiefs have four other halfbacks in training camp. Rookie Knile Davis, a third-round draft pick from Arkansas, is getting the starter’s snaps in Charles’ absence.
“No difference,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said when asked how the offense might change as long as Charles is out of the lineup. “The next guy has to step up. I think Knile and Shaun (Draughn) and Cyrus (Gray) and Jordan Roberts have done an excellent job. They’re getting a lot of reps right now, so we just keep going and nothing changes.”
Davis had has an uneven camp. He has looked good when running the ball but has dropped numerous passes, including one in last week’s preseason opener in New Orleans. He also had a 79-yard kickoff return against the Saints.
He has had some troubling mental lapses during practice. On Tuesday, quarterback Alex Smith on one play turned to hand the ball to Davis, but Davis had gone another direction and Smith had no choice but to eat the ball.
“He thought he heard something different (on the play-call),” Smith said.
A day earlier, Davis lined up in the wrong spot, forcing the Chiefs back to the huddle.
“There’s a time in camp when most rookies hit that wall mentally,” Pederson said. “But he’s pushed through that and he’s done an excellent job.
“Will he make a mistake every now and then? Yeah. Everybody does that.”
The Chiefs leaned heavily on Charles last year, and if the game against the Saints is an indication, they will do so again this season. He was handed or thrown the ball on eight of the starting offense’s 14 plays. He accounted for exactly half of the 80 yards on that drive, had the possession’s longest play with a 13-yard catch and scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run.
“He’s a special player,” Smith said. “I’m kind of stating the obvious. There’s no question he’ll be missed. We have to find a way (to cover for Charles’ loss).”