Running back Jamaal Charles has been a pleasant surprise for the Denver Broncos in 2017.
When Charles signed with the Broncos in May, it was unclear what type of role the three-time All-Pro would have in Denver’s offense. After all, he was coming off a 2016 season in which he played in only three games because of a torn ACL suffered in 2015, and it was widely believed that his body would never again hold up to the grind of playing in the NFL.
After locking up a roster spot with his play in his only preseason appearance against the Green Bay Packers, Charles has proven in four regular-season games that he still has some of the explosiveness that made him a star for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He has accumulated 175 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, and he has 3 receptions for 21 yards. More importantly, Charles has been a near-perfect complement to the bruising running style of C.J. Anderson.
When asked if the Broncos plan on continuing to limit Charles’ workload, first-year coach Vance Joseph didn’t beat around the bush.
“You do because our goal for Jamaal is to keep him healthy for a full season,” Joseph explained. “When you watch Jamaal burst through the line, absolutely you want more of that. C.J. [Anderson] is playing well and Book’s [Devontae Booker] got fresh young legs. We have three backs that are capable of being No. 1s. I think keeping Jamaal at his pitch count, so to speak, is going to help him stay healthy for 16 games and hopefully more. That’s the goal with Jamaal. Every game he looks better and better and better. That’s a good thing for us.”
The combination of Charles and Anderson carrying the ball paired with improved run-blocking from their offensive line has allowed the Broncos to average 143.0 yards per game on the ground, currently third in the league. Clearly, keeping Charles healthy should be a priority. But if he continues to flash an elite burst and legitimate game-changing ability, Denver is going to have a very difficult time keeping former Texas Longhorns star off the field.