By the way Jamaal Charles ran and cut and carried the load (again) on Sunday, it might have been easy for the casual observer to overlook the quiet pain he was playing through.
The blisters on his toes that plagued him a week ago were still present in the Chiefs' 26-17 win over the Titans, despite the considerable amount of time he apparently spent soaking them this week in a wide variety of concoctions.
Yet Charles again toughed it out, rushing for a season-high 108 yards on 22 carries while also catching five passes for 37 yards.
“I soaked them this whole week, and I've got to continue to soak 'em,” Charles said. “It's a long season, we've got 11 more (games).”
He punctuated this with a grin and an extended “whew,” which he said with equal parts relief and happiness over the Chiefs' 5-0 start.
“These toes got to come on,” he said.
Charles suspects he got the blisters ― which bothered him in the Chiefs' 31-7 win over the Giants last Sunday and also caused him to miss Wednesday's practice ― because of all the additional work he's gotten this season. He is currently the Chiefs' leader in both carries (92) and catches (28).
“I think (because of) the way I run and cut, that's where the majority of the wear and tear on my feet come from,” Charles said. “I'm doing more stuff than I did last year ... but I'm happy I'm doing more stuff and I can help my team win.”
Charles' teammates appreciate him for it, too.
“People see him and say 'Why didn't he make that cut, why didn't he break that?'” said receiver Dwayne Bowe. “But when you've got blisters man, that's like running with two broken feet.
“That guy, you've got to give it up to him. He'll do whatever it takes to help the team win. That's why he's our star running back.”
Tackle Donald Stephenson also noticed that despite the injury, Charles did some of his best work late in the game, when he gained 48 of his 108 yards.
“People don't realize how tough it is to get yards at the end of games,” Stephenson said. “Everybody in the stadium knows we're running so I commend him because he's not the biggest guy, but he's physical and it plays to our advantage. I love blocking for him.”
Charles' wasn't perfect, though. His fumble in the first half on the tail end of a 6-yard run gave the Titans excellent field position at the Chiefs' 48-yard line, though the defense promptly forced a three-and-out. It was his first lost fumble of the season and the ninth of his six-year career.
“I fell in an awkward position,” said Charles, who was smacked on the play by safety Michael Griffin, a former Texas teammate. “I felt like I didn't have any control over the ball ... my body was all messed up.”
While initially concerned that he had hurt something on the play, Charles returned to the game and proceeded to pass Christian Okoye for third place on the franchise’s all-time rushing yardage list. Charles, who currently has 4,933 career rushing yards, surpassed Okoye (4,897) and now trails Larry Johnson (6,015) and Priest Holmes (6,070).
“I want to continue to break records ― that's why I'm playing this game,” Charles said. “But I've got more records to get.”
And more wins to rack up, too, blisters and all.
“It hurts,” Charles said. “But (you know) what feels good? Walking when you've got a win.”