|11-29-2010, 02:42 AM|
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Babb: Jamaal Charles gives the Chiefs reason to believe
Jamaal Charles gives the Chiefs reason to believe
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star
SEATTLE | Jamaal Charles is starting to believe. The Chiefs running back keeps doing the unthinkable, and when that happens so often, how does that redefine what’s possible?
Kansas City passed another hurdle Sunday, beating Seattle on the road, and Charles was a big reason why. He rushed for 173 yards and scored a touchdown. Runs that should have been short gains instead went for first downs. Plays that should’ve been stuffed at the line of scrimmage instead led to first downs.
The Chiefs looked like a playoff team in Sunday’s 42-24 win. But why stop at reaching the playoffs? A week after wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said Kansas City could win this year’s Super Bowl, Charles is beginning to think it wasn’t such a crazy suggestion.
“I believe, man,” Charles said during a quiet moment in the Chiefs’ locker room. “Anything is possible.”
When you’re Jamaal Charles, there is every reason to believe. He’s the rusher who entered the NFL as a third-round pick in 2008 — a flier, a backup, a complement. Even then, he said that all he needed was a chance. He got it after Larry Johnson was released, and on Sunday, he passed 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season.
Charles splits carries with Thomas Jones, and this is what he has done. There are five games left in the regular season. What else could be ahead?
His ability, attitude and outlook isn’t just impressive; it’s infectious. Jones is an 11-year veteran. He has broken the 1,000-yard milestone in each of his past five seasons. He’s on pace to do it again this year. He said Sunday that playing alongside Charles makes him want to raise his own game; lift his own expectations.
“I just love watching him run,” Jones said. “Just having him on your team and some of the things that he can do with the football in his hand motivates me to do certain things. I take some of his game and try to add it to my game.”
Perhaps the best thing about Charles isn’t his statistics, impressive as they are. It’s not his expectations, outlandish as they might seem. It’s that he believes in what the Chiefs are doing, and he’s willing to keep listening, keep grinding and keep pushing to reach a ceiling that Charles himself continues to raise.
Look at this season. After a dozen weeks, Kansas City’s season is a success. Seven victories and 1,021 yards for its best player. The playoffs are within reach. The disappointment of the past three years is gone. It could be enough. It’s not for Charles.
“My body is starting to feel good,” he said. “Like I’m starting the season all over again.”
He attributed Sunday’s win to a strong week of practice, and don’t think that his teammates don’t hear that.
Don’t think that Kansas City’s coaches won’t echo it. Charles is a reluctant team spokesman, a shy kid who often tells team officials that he’d rather stay quiet instead of granting interview requests, but with each week, it’s Charles who’s becoming the face, personality and voice of this team.
He is the Chiefs in 2010. Young, improving and beginning to believe in even the seemingly impossible. He said that if Kansas City starts believing in team the way New Orleans believed in the Saints last season, maybe it’ll be the Chiefs celebrating a championship down Grand Boulevard sometime next February. Why not?
“I’m not satisfied,” he said. “It’s not just about doing this for one year; it’s about doing it forever.”