Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chiefs miss Charles, hope for speedy return

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs got a rude reminder of what life could be like without Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles in their preseason loss to San Francisco.

They struggled to move the ball on the ground. They struggled to protect Alex Smith in the passing game. Really, they struggled to do much of anything on offence the entire night.

The result was a 15-13 defeat that left the Chiefs winless in their first two preseason games under coach Andy Reid. But both games come with a significant asterisk: Charles only played one series in the opener against New Orleans, and not at all on Friday night, when he was held out of the 49ers game with a lingering strain of his right foot.

"He'll practise tomorrow and we'll see how he does," Reid said on a conference call Saturday afternoon. "We'll see how it works out for him tomorrow. He needs work -- I mean, they all need to work. But we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Reid wouldn't say whether Charles will be available next weekend in Pittsburgh.

"We'll see how he does tomorrow," Reid said. "Taking it day-by-day. We'll see."

Charles hurt his right foot when he stepped on a teammate in practice last week. He didn't suit up again the rest of the week, but took part in several rehab drills away from the team.

He worked out again before Friday night's game, but Reid said he didn't want to risk further injury by allowing him to play in the game. Instead, Charles spent most of the night helping rookie running back Knile Davis, who got most of the reps with the No. 1 offence.

Davis showed some flashes, too. He ran for 37 yards while catching a team-best three passes for 31 yards, including a 17-yarder that was among the Chiefs' biggest plays all night.

The Chiefs only managed 170 yards total offence in the game.

"I had fun out there," Davis said. "Jamaal stayed down on the sideline helping me out, trying to coach me through things, telling me what to look for and I think I did pretty good."

Still, it wasn't the same as having Charles on the field.

He returned from a devastating knee injury last season to run for more than 1,500 yards for an offence that was otherwise among the worst in the NFL. Twice, Charles ran for more than 200 yards in a game, showing the kind of breakaway speed that makes him one of the best in the league.

If there was any questions about where he'd fit in Reid's new-look system, they were answered in the Chiefs' preseason opener in New Orleans. He touched the ball on eight of the 14 plays the No. 1 offence was on the field, capping an 80-yard drive with a short touchdown run.

All that efficiency seemed to disappear with Charles standing on the sideline, though.

The 49ers defence had to worry less about the running game, and that gave them the green light to blitz the quarterback. Smith and the rest of the Chiefs' signal-callers were sacked a combined seven times, the biggest reason that the offence struggled to get on track.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was targeted only once all night, even though the first-team offence played the entire first half. In fact, only one wide receiver caught more than one pass in the game, and that was backup Jamar Newsome -- a long shot to make the roster.

"We didn't get into the rhythm we got into last week," Smith said. "It'll be good to look at. I think we certainly left a lot out there, a lot of really easily fixable things."

In other injury news, Reid said that right tackle Eric Fisher -- the No. 1 overall pick in the April draft -- would miss practice today with a sore right shoulder.

Rookie tight end Travis Kelce has a bruised knee, cornerback Dunta Robinson has an AC sprain in his shoulder, and Newsome has a sprained ankle and ailing shoulder. None of them are expected to do much work in coming days.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2013 B5

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