Chiefs running back Knile Davis has filled Jamaal Charles’ shoes before.
When Charles sustained a concussion early in last season’s playoff game at Indianapolis, it was Davis who came in and carried 18 times for 67 yards, caught seven passes for 33 yards and scored two touchdowns before suffering a leg injury.
So when Charles suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter of Sunday’s 24-17 loss to Denver, it was Davis to the rescue again.
Davis, a third-round pick in 2013, responded with 22 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns and caught a team-leading six passes for 26 yards.
“I’m very comfortable,” said Davis. “When I go in, I know my job has been all week to pay attention to what Jamaal does. I’ve been doing good film study, watching him and what he does, so if unfortunately he went down, I would be able to step in and help out.”
Davis burst up the middle for 25 yards on his very first carry, and he also followed the blocking of left guard Mike McGlynn for a 19-yard sweep in the second quarter.
“I felt good, but you can always be better,” Davis said. “Being a running back, it’s about a rhythm. It’s a rhythm thing, and I was able to get in a rhythm today and make plays. It was a great feeling to score, because it’s tough to score in the NFL.”
When Davis, a 227-pounder, is in the game, he gives opponents a different look than the 199-pound Charles.
“He brings a different style to our offense,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “He’s a physical back, a big back who can really run. You have a little bit of a pounding effect on the defense and gives the guys up front that mentality that you can pound it with Knile. I thought he did a good job in protection and in the pass game as well.
“He did a great job for a young guy. Jamaal is in on everything. Jamaal takes all the reps in practice so for those young guys like Knile and Cyrus Gray, it’s a tough position, and I thought they did a great job.”
While Davis scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 4 yards, he was part of the offense that failed to score in two trips inside the 5.
“We scored in the red zone …” Davis emphasized. “Defense wins sometimes, too. We faced a great team, and we stood in there and could have won it … should have won it … this is something to build off for next week.”
The only thing that held Davis back as a rookie last year was his propensity for fumbling. He showed marked improvement in that area during the preseason, though he lost the handle on one reception on Sunday. The officials ruled it an incomplete pass, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid challenged the call, and it was reversed, giving Davis a 6-yard completion and ruling the ball was fumbled out of bounds.
If Charles is unavailable next week, Davis would make his second career start at Miami. Last year, in his only start, he rushed for a career-best 81 yards and two touchdowns in the regular-season finale at San Diego.
“He just stepped up and really epitomizes what coach always talks about, ‘Next man up,’” said offensive tackle Ryan Harris. “He gave us tremendous production.”