We'll be starting Kansas City Chiefs positional previews before the start of training camp next week. Up today are the running backs.
Unofficial depth chart: Jamaal Charles, Anthony Sherman (FB), Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Keshawn Hill
Changes: Ware and Hill are the newcomers while Joe McKnight is gone.
Were Jamaal's injuries a sign of things to come?
A "down year" for Jamaal Charles still includes five yards per carry so keep that in mind when we talk about him declining. Even 80 percent Jamaal is better than most backs in the league. That said, Jamaal's injuries started to pile up last year. There was an ankle, hamstring and knee, among others. Nothing too serious but it was enough that it seemed to slow him at times last year. So the question is, was that a fluke? Or was that a sign of Jamaal breaking down? Given his age (28) and relatively low career carries -- Jamaal topped out at 285 carries in 2012 -- I tend to think that he has a couple of high level seasons left in him, especially if he's preparing his body to last longer. An improved offensive line - hopefully - should help, too.
The annual "Will Knile Davis spell Jamaal Charles" question
This is a close cousin of the "How will the Chiefs rest Dontari Poe?" question we see each year. Knile Davis reminds me more of a workhorse back who needs carry after carry to get into a rhythm, which makes it harder for him to spell Jamaal here and there the way that the Chiefs might need. As much as I like Davis, he still only averages 3.5 yards per carry, which is an obvious step down from Jamaal. The Chiefs also had to change their scheme when he came on as a full-time back during the Dolphins game. Davis had 134 carries last year but once you take out the 54 carries he had when Jamaal was injured early in the season, his usage is similar to his rookie season when Jamaal was healthy. Go check out the game logs and you can see that the Chiefs didn't use Davis very often when Jamaal was healthy. Because Jamaal is the key to the Chiefs success and a better pass blocker than Davis, I see the Chiefs using him as much as possible if he's healthy.
Will Anthony Sherman continue to be the best fullback in the league?
Yes. Yes, he will.
Who will be the third back?
We have Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis as locks at running back. Anthony Sherman will be the fullback. If the Chiefs keep just one more back, who will it be? Cyrus Gray and Charcandrick West seem to be the top two options. The Chiefs lost Cyrus Gray to an ACL last November. Assuming he's healthy, I believe his special teams contributions put him slightly ahead of West, who could still make the team if the Chiefs carry another back.