The Kansas City Chiefs only had RB Jamaal Charles on the field for 12 carries last season before losing him for the season with an ACL tear. In those 12 carries, Charles showed just how dangerous he can be, ripping off two carries of over 20 yards. Without Charles in the lineup, the Chiefs finished in the middle of the pack running the ball in 2011, averaging just 118 yards per game, ranking 15th overall. Charles has said he has the confidence that he’ll be cleared to return to the field at the start of the club’s training camp late in July.
Speaking to the Kansas City Star, Charles said he’s ready to get back on the field. “When they let that cape off me, I’m ready to go. I’m ready to put my cleats back on and punish everybody in my way.”
If Charles is able to return to his 2010 form, (1,935 all-purpose yards 8 touchdowns) he is add a dynamic to the Chiefs offense which was lacking last season. Charles, 25, possesses elite speed, and averages over 6 yards per carry. With a healthy Charles, Kansas City could have a very explosive running game in 2012. The team returns Dexter McCluster, a speedy all-purpose threat who totaled near 1,500 yards last season. The Chiefs also added free agent running back, Peyton Hillis in the offseason. Hillis had become a cult-like fan favorite with the Cleveland Browns in 2010, but fell out of favor with the club after a lackluster 2011 season and was not retained. Hillis could become the Chiefs goal line back in 2012.
The AFC West has the potential to be one of the more interesting divisions during the NFL regular season with questions surrounding each team. Can Carson Palmer finally end the Oakland Raiders playoff drought? Is Peyton Manning healthy enough to lead the Denver Broncos on a potential Super Bowl quest? Can Norv Turner get the San Diego Chargers back to the playoffs after a disappointing season?
There are questions surrounding the Chiefs as well. If QB Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles can return to their 2010 form, they could find themselves returning to the playoffs once again.