PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

July 20, 2009

Jamaal anxious for expanded role

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is a break or two away from becoming a household name. And he knows this. He knows his day is coming, the day when a coach will finally decide to feature his explosive skills.

Charles had more than impressive numbers as a freshman at the University of Texas. He helped Vince Young and the rest of the Longhorns to the 2005 national championship.

Despite all the promise and potential Jamaal showed his freshman season, Longhorn offensive coordinator Greg Davis refused to make Charles the centerpiece of his offense the next year. Had he, who knows what could have been. Had Davis given Charles the keys, maybe he stays his senior year, makes a run for the Heisman Trophy and leads Texas to another title.

But that was not the case, as Jamaal headed for open waters by entering the 2008 NFL draft where he was selected in the third round by Kansas City.

Jamaal gave the Chiefs a handful of sparks last season. The former Port Arthur Memorial superstar rushed for 357 yards on 67 carries for an average of 5.3 per attempt. He also tallied 272 yards receiving on 27 receptions for an average of 10.1.

Even with starter Larry Johnson out of the picture for most of last year, the Chiefs used Charles on a rather limited basis. Davis was the same way, as he rarely stuck with Jamaal for an entire series. He did that despite the fact that Jamaal averaged more than six yards per touch all three seasons with the Longhorns.

The public excuses for Davis' decision process was that Charles had a fumbling problem. And maybe there was some truth to that. He did have two fumbles last year as a rookie.

But what seemed to be the major concern for both UT and for the Chiefs is Jamaal's size. The claim is that the two-time Willie Ray Smith award winner and Port Arthur News Superteamer is too small. Since leaving Memorial, the knock on Jamaal has been his frame. He's 5-11 and entered the NFL at 201 pounds. An inch shorter, Houston running back Steve Slaton weighs the same. Tennessee's Chris Johnson, who is a hair faster than Jamaal, is 5-11 and 200 pounds.

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