Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball during the game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 21, 2008, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 2009, Jamaal Charles rushed for 658 yards at the end of the season, the most of any running back in Chiefs history over a four-game stretch. In free agency, the Chiefs signed Thomas Jones, a veteran who set career highs last season with 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns. During the draft, they added Dexter McCluster, a running back and wide receiver who ran the fastest 20-yard shuffle time of any back in the draft.
In short, the Chargers run defense could have its hands full Monday when the team opens its season at 7:15 p.m. local time against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Well, they are really running the football, and obviously they're doing it with multiple backs,” coach Norv Turner said. “I don't think any one game is a gauge of where you're at, but it is certainly our first test to play against a team that runs the ball awfully well.”
Jones, 32, is the least-flashy member of the backfield. He is a downfield, between-the-tackles runner who will see little, if any, action as a receiver.
Charles, 23, and McCluster, 22, are faster, more versatile weapons whom quarterback Matt Cassel will target in open space.
Chargers middle linebacker Stephen Cooper said last week that he expects the three running backs to give the defense various looks. Cooper will lead a unit that is likely to be without Shawne Merriman, who is listed as doubtful with an Achilles' injury.
“They have a lot of split-back stuff, try to get [Charles] and [McCluster] scat out of the backfield,” Cooper said. “They're more outside runners, but at the same time, we have great outside linebackers and great safeties to keep contain. So as long as we're getting downhill and getting off blocks, we'll have a great day.”