ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – It isn't really much of a question or mystery, not with Sunday being the second time in three weeks the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs will face each other. Not even Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles sees reason to believe otherwise.
“[The] key is to stop me … if you stop me, you can stop the whole team,’’ Charles said.
Charles has gained 37.4 percent of the Chiefs' yards on offense in their first 11 games – 918 yards rushing and 425 yards receiving – and his 253 touches represent 34.8 percent the plays the Chiefs have run. But that’s just the way first-year Chiefs coach Andy Reid wanted it. When Reid looked over the Chiefs' personnel both before and after he accepted the job, it was clear to him that Charles was just the kind of running-and-receiving threat he wanted in the offense.
“I thought he was a heck of a football player that can do a lot of things,’’ Reid said. “I looked back at the 2010 season, I believe it was, and Charlie Weis was here and he kind of flexed him out and moved him around a little bit and threw him the ball. You saw him run the ball quite a bit the last couple years, and then from the backfield when Charlie was here he moved him around a bit more and still ran the ball with him. You can see his flexibility there.''
And Reid saw in Charles another in a line of multitasking running backs he's had in his version of the West Coast offense. Reid has played Charles all over the formation, including out wide as a receiver and in the slot, along with everything Charles is asked to do when lined up in the backfield.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have that,’’ Reid said. “When I got to Philadelphia it started with Duce Staley, then [Brian] Westbrook, and [LeSean] McCoy. I’ve been blessed with versatile running backs.’’
The Broncos kept Charles largely under wraps in the first meeting earlier this month, even flashing a 3-4 look on defense at times to do it. Charles finished with 78 yards rushing and minus-6 yards receiving. Those 72 total yards represent Charles’ lowest output of the season.
The Broncos will be without defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who went on injured reserve Wednesday with a right hip injury. Vickerson was a key piece of the Broncos’ run defense, and the Chiefs figure to test the middle of the formation to see if the Broncos’ are up to the task with either Mitch Unrein or rookie Sylvester Williams playing in Vickerson’s spot.
Vickerson, along with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, kept the blockers off the Broncos linebackers, who are free to then flow to the play.
"It might put a little more on my plate, but that’s OK," Knighton said. "We know Charles is the key, you can’t ever let him get going."