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 offense 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 because of a lingering strain of his right foot.
“He’ll practice 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 would 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 received most of the reps with the No. 1 offense.
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.
“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 offense 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 were 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 offense was on the field, capping an 80-yard drive with a short touchdown run.