I caught up over the phone today with Jamaal Charles, who will return to Kansas City next week as the Chiefs begin the conditioning portion of their offseason program.
I’ll be doing a series of posts this week about our discussion. For now just know that Charles, who spent his offseason working out in Austin, Texas, with a group of NFL players that included Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, said he has been training with a plan to avoid another rash of injuries like he went through last season.
“I feel good,’’ Charles said. “My body has healed up, rested up.
“I was frustrated more last season as I’ve ever been because of all of those injuries. I was frustrated because I didn’t feel my body was right the whole season. But I battled through that time. That’s all I could do. I felt like I was in a fight and I had to respond. I had 12 weeks to finish the season, and it felt to me like I had 12 rounds to go.’’
Charles’ troubles began at the conclusion of training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. He twisted an ankle when he stepped off a curb he didn’t see while carrying a box from the dormitory at Missouri Western State University.
As the season progressed, Charles also had foot, back, shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries. This list doesn’t include a blow to the head he took during an October game in San Diego, after which he described symptoms that sounded like those of a concussion.
He missed just one game, in September against the Dolphins in Miami, but Charles sat out a ton of practice time. He was listed on the Chiefs’ injury report for nine of their 16 games.
A sign that Charles’ body, which at 200 pounds doesn’t appear well suited to year after year of the NFL’s running back grind, is breaking down?
“It wasn’t that,’’ Charles said. “I think it was just bad luck. I was just dinged up. If my body was breaking down, I definitely wouldn’t have played the whole season."
Charles offered his stats as further evidence. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry, below his career average but a yard-and-a-half above that of his backup, Knile Davis. Charles caught 40 passes, well below his career-high set the year before but still in line with what he had done most of his career.
It doesn’t mean any of that was easy for Charles to accomplish.
“When you’re playing football and you hurt your ankle, you just have to have it in your mind that every time you get hit it’s going to hurt,’’ Charles said. “It definitely hurt. But I was able to put that out of my mind and make plays.’’