The Chiefs rode running back Jamaal Charles hard last season and were rewarded with nearly 2,000 yards in total offense and 19 touchdowns that were essential to their successful bid for a playoff berth.
When Charles got hurt in that playoff loss to the Colts, the Chiefs turned to Knile Davis before Davis got hurt and Cyrus Gray was forced into action that seemed too big for him. That was part of the reason why the Chiefs blew a huge lead and avoiding a similar situation this year may be part of the reason why the Chiefs kept five running backs — Charles, Davis, Gray, De’Anthony Thomas and Joe McKnight — and a fullback on their 53-man roster despite having needs elsewhere on the roster.
The team didn’t change the look of their offense enough to expect anything but another heavy workload for Charles, which led to a question for coach Andy Reid about what he plans to do with all those running backs this season.
“Use them,” Reid said, via ESPN.com. “You want to keep the best players. This is [General Manager John Dorsey] and how he operates, which is the right way to do things. You keep the guys you feel are the best 53. We felt the four [backups] were that and we roll from there.”
Thomas should see a lot of time as a receiver in a similar role to the one Dexter McCluster played last season and Gray is a core special teams player, but Davis and McKnight can only play so much if Charles is healthy and productive. Having both of them isn’t going to make life any easier if Charles isn’t either of those things, which could lead to more questions for Reid and Dorsey about roster construction if issues elsewhere contribute to a change in fortunes for the Chiefs this season.