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Old 08-14-2011, 11:24 AM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Babb: How will Charles get his carries with another running back in the Chiefs’ mix?

How will Charles get his carries with another running back in the Chiefs’ mix?
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

T he old man took a shove and then came back ready to swing. Thomas Jones still has some fire left.

Jones, the veteran Chiefs running back who on Friday will turn 33 years old, was pushed out of bounds in the first quarter of last week’s preseason opener against Tampa Bay. It was mostly an unmemorable evening — it ended with a 25-0 Chiefs loss — if not, in part, for Jones’ crashing into a table after a 17-yard carry and then running toward the Bucs defender who shoved him.

“Once you stop loving the game and playing with intensity,” Jones said afterward, “it’s time for you to stop playing. I don’t feel that way.”

In an abbreviated appearance, Jones rushed for 25 yards on two carries, perhaps a glimpse that age has not yet caught up with him and that, in a crowded Chiefs backfield, the team’s third-eldest player can still account for some memorable moments.

The Chiefs face an interesting problem entering the 2011 season: A year after leading the NFL in rushing, averaging 164.2 yards, they have more talent in their backfield — perhaps so much that a reliable running back or two might be denied carries. The Chiefs signed fullback Le’Ron McClain, and second-year player Dexter McCluster has taken plenty of snaps at running back during training camp.

Already, some Chiefs fans are in a fury that, for the second consecutive season, it was Jones and not Jamaal Charles — whose 1,467 yards last season was second only to Houston’s Arian Foster, who had 1,616 — who was listed as the team’s No. 1 running back when the first depth chart was released last week.

Charles was in uniform but didn’t have a carry in Friday’s game, and he declined a postgame interview, saying he preferred to let the team’s younger players speak.

Regardless, Charles has said he doesn’t pay much attention to the depth chart, and despite the fan concern, sharing carries last year with Jones seemed to make Charles a more explosive back.

Finishing with 15 carries fewer than Jones’ 245 in 2010, Charles improved on his rushing average and yardage, and reduced the number of fumbles from his breakout season in 2009, when he averaged 20 carries per game — about six more than his workload last year. Charles also ended the season healthier; he underwent offseason shoulder surgery before the 2010 season.

So a healthy Charles is a productive Charles, and odd as it might seem for some fans, giving the team’s best rusher an occasional break was a good thing last year. Now, it’s a question of how to find the right balance among Charles and the team’s other backs.

McClain was Baltimore’s primary rusher in 2008, reaching the first of two consecutive Pro Bowls. His role was de-emphasized after the Ravens drafted Ray Rice to pair with Willis McGahee, and McClain said during free agency that he wanted to sign with a team where he’d have a chance to be one of its main ball carriers.

On Friday, McClain backed off that mandate, saying he would happily block for Charles and Jones — and whoever else carries the ball.

“You’ve got so much to choose from, with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles and Dex back there,” McClain said.

He added that he signed with the Chiefs with the hope of being “utilized” more than he was in Baltimore, where he totaled 74 carries in the past two seasons. He said that if he excels in his role as a blocker, perhaps a few carries will trickle in his direction.

“Priority No. 1: Block for those two guys and get our running game back to where it needs to be, and that’s No. 1,” he said. “I think that’s why they brought me in here, and that’s my job, so I’m going to be laying linebackers out weekly, man, and doing whatever I can.”

In the back of the locker room, near the exit, Jackie Battle dressed quietly as other backs held small, informal news conferences. Battle was the Chiefs’ leading rusher against Tampa Bay, finishing with 40 yards on 13 carries, but he also had a fumble that weighed on his mind hours after it occurred.

“I can’t make mistakes,” he said. “And I made one.”

Battle, the Chiefs’ best short-yardage back last year, is easy to overlook in the team’s running backs derby, and he said Friday that the pressure is higher and the margin of error smaller with so many talented backs surrounding him.

“I’m just trying to find my role,” he said. “The offense, it’s different now. We’ve got a bunch of guys in here; a lot of talent. I’m just trying to find my place in there.”

Battle said he’d like a larger slice of the carries pie — he had 20 last year — but he understands there are plenty of hungry teammates to satisfy. He said he’d do whatever the Chiefs ask of him, as long as he has a place on the team.

“I’ll put my hand down and play fullback if they want me to,” he said.

The problem with that is the Chiefs signed McClain and drafted Shane Bannon in the seventh round. Still, Battle said he’s hopeful he’ll have a roster spot after final cuts are made in about three weeks.

McClain thinks coach Todd Haley and coordinator Bill Muir have a plan for how to split the carries and to make certain the Chiefs remain one of the league’s top rushing teams. But McClain also said that some might be left out, others could emerge and depth-chart questions — like the aging but fiery Jones starting over the spectacular Charles — will likely persist.

He said none of that will matter if the Chiefs replicate their 2010 performance.

“The sky’s the limit,” McClain said. “They put that up last year, being the No. 1 running team in the league. Now this year, with me added to it, we’re trying to get it again. And again and again, as long as I’m here.”
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:30 AM   #2
Deberg_1990 Deberg_1990 is offline
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:37 AM   #3
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“Priority No. 1: Block for those two guys and get our running game back to where it needs to be, and that’s No. 1,” he said. “I think that’s why they brought me in here, and that’s my job, so I’m going to be laying linebackers out weekly, man, and doing whatever I can.”

Me likey
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:38 AM   #4
dannybcaitlyn dannybcaitlyn is offline
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Jones still has good vision but definitely has lost a gear.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:41 AM   #5
Okie_Apparition Okie_Apparition is offline
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The JC needs more carries is sooooooo 2010, Bent Kabb
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:44 AM   #6
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“You’ve got so much to choose from, with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles and Dex back there,” McClain said.
This quote says a lot about the chiefs backfield for the upcoming year. I expect mccluster is going to have big role in the chiefs backfield and will show that he can be the playmaker pioli drafted him to be
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:44 AM   #7
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McClain is going to bust LBs chops all game.


Until that one time he has the ball and the LB prepares to take on another block and ZOOOOM McClain blows by him.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:48 AM   #8
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i hope Mc can block .. thats all folks ....
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dannybcaitlyn View Post
Jones still has good vision but definitely has lost a gear.
What's the stat for jones something like every team he has been on for the last 5 years led the NFL in rushing.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:51 AM   #10
Okie_Apparition Okie_Apparition is offline
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It does make you wonder how Bowe will get his catches with Baldwin, Breaston & Culbert..Colbert..thatguy too...
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:53 AM   #11
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“I think that’s why they brought me in here, and that’s my job, so I’m going to be laying linebackers out weekly, man, and doing whatever I can.”

We need some hard nose players on both sides IMO.
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:04 PM   #12
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Someone should tell the Star that the days of 350 carry backs are gone.
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Okie_Apparition View Post
It does make you wonder how Bowe will get his catches with Baldwin, Breaston & Culbert..Colbert..thatguy too...
And Urban. And Moeaki. Oh noes!!!!!! Bowe NEEDS MOAR CATCHES!!!!!!111
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:15 PM   #14
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Someone should tell the Star that the days of 350 carry backs are gone.
Hmmm, I vaguely remember a certain bulletin board that despised Marty's running back by committee. Now it's endorsed as the best approach.
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:22 PM   #15
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Hmmm, I vaguely remember a certain bulletin board that despised Marty's running back by committee. Now it's endorsed as the best approach.
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