Can Chiefs turn on running game Sunday?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With the exception of 2007, when they finished dead last, the Chiefs have been in the top half of the NFL in rushing yardage every season since 2001. They have seven top 10 finishes in that span.

So the Chiefs will always be able to run the ball effectively, right? Death, taxes and the Chiefs running all over their opponents?

That seems to be the attitude at Arrowhead Stadium and there’s danger in that thinking. The Chiefs were close to dismal running the ball in the preseason. The running backs averaged 2.9 yards per carry with Jamaal Charles lagging behind at 1.9 yards per carry.

Coach Andy Reid recently acknowledged that much of the reason for the sluggish running game rests with the emphasis the Chiefs placed in practice on reviving a long-dormant passing game.

That’s fine. The passing game needed to be revitalized and if the cost is some production on the ground, that’s a fair trade.

But the Chiefs think they can make their running game work starting with Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

“We know this team can run the football," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “They’ve proven that in the past. That’s been the history.

“We have the utmost confidence in our up-front guys. We continue to work it. There’s not a concern going into this first game. We’re going to cut it loose. You always want to try to establish the run early but really the game itself dictates the way you’re going to go."

The Chiefs have the piece to make the running game work. Charles had another big season last year. Rookie running back Knile Davis has plenty of potential. The offensive line consists of players selected no lower than the third round. Tight end Anthony Fasano and fullback Anthony Sherman are good blockers.

It won’t happen just because the Chiefs want it to. They may need to spend more practice time in order to get it right.