Charles deserves love he's getting from fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jamaal Charles had his explanation for why he's among the league leaders in the fan voting at running back for this year's Pro Bowl.

"It's probably most of those guys that are fantasy football people," Charles said.

Perhaps there's an element of that, with fans rewarding Charles for helping to carry their fantasy teams. More likely, it's an appreciation for what Charles has accomplished this season. He leads the AFC and is third in the NFL in rushing yardage (1,011). He is second in the AFC and tied for fourth in the league in receptions (55) among running backs. He is tied for the league league lead among backs in touchdowns (11).

Maybe his Pro Bowl vote total is an appreciation for a career that as running backs go is rapidly becoming the best in Kansas City Chiefs history and among the best among his contemporaries around the league.

Both are important to Charles, who is the only back in Chiefs history to have four 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

"I know it's a big deal,'' Charles said. "To be up there with some of the top running backs of the Chiefs franchise, that's big. I'm still going to continue to go out there and make history and break records. Records don't stand for long. Somebody will come in and break my records one day as well.

“I always say I want to be the best running back in the league."

Charles gives credit to the arrival of Andy Reid as head coach for his big season. It's true the Chiefs are using Charles more as a receiver than they have in the past. His 55 receptions are already a career-high, surpassing the 45 he had in 2010.

But Charles has been able to produce for the Chiefs no matter their head coach (Reid is his fourth) or offensive coordinator (Doug Pederson is his sixth). This year's 4.6-yard per carry rushing average is nothing for Charles to be embarrassed about, but it's by far the lowest in his career and almost a full yard short of his career average of 5.5 yards per carry.

So while there's plenty to praise Reid for since his arrival in Kansas City, making a star of Charles is not one of them. That seems to come naturally no matter who's coaching the Chiefs.