Jamaal Charles is finally back in action. The Chiefs have taken him off the Physically Unable to Perform list and will have him practice Tuesday for the first time since tearing his ACL last season.
Charles, whose 5.5 yards per carry are the best among high-volume running backs in NFL history, tore his ACL in a Week 5 loss to the Bears last season. It wasn’t the first time he’d suffered a serious injury in his eight-year career — he first tore an ACL in 2011 and missed 14 games — but he was coming off three straight seasons of at least 15 games played prior to last year’s setback.
When healthy, Charles is the key for the Chiefs offense. He has topped 1,000 yards in each of his past five healthy seasons on the way to four Pro Bowls and two First-Team All-Pro selections. He’s an ever-present receiving threat and led the league with 12 rushing touchdowns in 2013.
After Charles went down last season was ironically when the Chiefs turned their season around. They lost the next week’s game to Minnesota to fall to 1-5 and then won 12 straight games, including a 30-0 wildcard playoff victory over the Texans that gave the franchise its first playoff victory in 22 years before falling 27-20 to the Patriots the next week.
Charles’ backups, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, combined for 1,037 yards and 10 scores in his absence.
This offseason, Kansas City added one of the league’s top run-blocking right tackles in Mitchell Schwartz, whom it signed away from Cleveland. Charles is now 29 and coming off his second ACL tear, but he’ll still look to be the focal point of what Kansas City does on offense.