KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jamaal Charles didn’t give much thought early in his career to becoming the Kansas City Chiefs' all-time leading rusher, and for good reason. Back then, he didn’t look like much of a candidate for such an honor.
Charles backed up a washed-up Larry Johnson for the first season and a half after joining the Chiefs. One of his early head coaches, Todd Haley, thought so little of Charles for a game against the Oakland Raiders in September 2009 that he deactivated a healthy Charles in favor of another of Johnson’s backups, Dantrell Savage.
The Chiefs and Haley really stumbled onto Charles. He was an accidental star, one the Chiefs were left with no choice but to go with later in that 2009 season when Johnson’s erratic behavior forced the Chiefs to get rid of him.
Though it’s easy to see now, Charles was not groomed to be record-setter. He was looked at much as Knile Davis is now, simply insurance in case the incumbent featured back went off the tracks.
Charles, to his credit, became that and more for the Chiefs. Once the Chiefs rid themselves of Johnson, he quickly seized the job and played so well even Haley couldn’t move him out of the lineup.
Charles delivered for Chiefs teams good and bad, during their AFC West-winning season of 2010 and for last year’s wild-card playoff team, and for the miserable club of 2012 that won only two games.
Now Charles is on the verge of breaking the Chiefs’ record. He needs 53 yards to get to 6,071 and pass Priest Holmes as their all-time leading rusher.
The record could fall in the Chiefs’ next game on Oct. 19 against the Chargers in San Diego. Getting the record at Arrowhead Stadium might be sweeter for Charles and Chiefs fans. But it’s more poetic for Charles to set the new mark on the road.
His two best rushing games, 259 yards against Denver to end the 2009 season and 233 against New Orleans in 2012, came on the road. His career-high for receiving yards (195) and touchdowns (5) happened in last year’s game in Oakland.