Just one slight mechanical adjustment and Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said he should be back to full go.
“I’m ready to let the training wheels off,” Charles said. “I don’t want them on. I know how to ride. Take them off and let me ride.”
Charles is expected to increase his workload Sunday at Oakland, his second game action after returning from the nearly year-long absence to recover from knee surgery.
In the previous game, the 43-14 loss at Pittsburgh before the open week, Charles suited up for the first time and was took part in 10 offensive snaps. His two rushing attempts totaled 7 yards and he was targeted once but an Alex Smith pass fell incomplete.
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The original idea for the Charles comeback was to have him return for the Raiders, but an ankle injury to Charcandrick West changed the depth chart and moved Charles up to third team, which meant playing time was likely against the Steelers.
Charles was ready then. He sounds more ready now.
“I’m here, I’m 100 percent, you could say 110 percent,” Charles said. “I’m on the field, I’m playing.”
When the Chiefs have run the ball, they’ve done it well, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt, the ninth best average in the NFL.
But their 90.3 rushing yards per game ranks 21st. Spencer Ware has gotten the bulk of the work with a team-leading 54 attempts. West is second with 12.
Andy Reid said Charles expects to be a full practice participant this week. As for a bigger role, Reid said: “As long as there are no setbacks, he’ll probably do a little bit more.”
The Chiefs could use the production. In their 2-2 start, the offense has mostly lacked a spark. Charles is the type of player who can provide one.
He is not only the Chiefs career rushing leader with 7,227 yards, but he holds the NFL career record for yards per carry by a running back at 5.47. Charles also has been an integral part of the passing game, especially in the Reid era.
Charles’ injury occurred in the fifth game last season, and marked the second time Charles has torn an ACL in a knee. The most recent was the right one. He tore his left ACL in 2011 and missed the final 14 games.
When he returned in 2012, Charles was terrific, rushing for a career-best 1,509 yards, including three runs of 80 or more yards.
Three-quarters of a season remains for Charles to make his mark on this year, and physically, he said he’s up to the challenge.
“I feel like I’m fast, my speed never left,” Charles said. “My gift is speed. And I still have it. I just thank God for allowing me to keep my speed.”