How much work is too much for Charles?

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
7:30
AM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jamaal Charles is not the NFL's biggest running back. Far from it, in fact. At 200 pounds, Charles is the smallest of the three halfbacks on his own team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Charles does not look like a back built to take a consistent pounding. Nobody has ever questioned his toughness or ability to rebound from a big hit, but it's natural to wonder with Charles, how much is too much?

Charles leads the league in touches. He has 92 carries and 28 catches and those 120 touches project to 384 for the full season at his current pace.

[+] EnlargeJamaal Charles
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesChiefs running back Jamaal Charles has 120 touches this season.
The potential for overuse of Charles was a concern to the Chiefs last season and they still gave him the ball 320 times between carries and catches. But it doesn't appear to bother coach Andy Reid this season.

"Running backs, this is kind of their deal," Reid said. "I'm not sure you ever quite feel right after the first game. You kind of go off knowing the guy and make sure you keep in good communication. He's handling it pretty good."

Charles has been troubled the past two weeks by blisters on his feet. He didn't practice on Wednesday because of them. But that's not a problem stemming from overuse.

"This is his feet," Reid said. "This is not about the joints or any of that. His feet are a mess. That's unusual but his feet are a mess. He's got blisters. We'll get that taken care of."

Reid's deeds match his words. Charles has been the only consistent threat for the Chiefs. Particularly at running back, the Chiefs have been unable to develop what they consider to be a suitable alternative.

They drafted Knile Davis in the third round this year specifically to ease Charles' burden. Between fumbles, lining up in the wrong places and running the wrong plays, the Chiefs don't seem to trust Davis much.

The Chiefs also have Cyrus Gray, one of their best special teams players. He has played some in passing situations but otherwise gets little work on offense.

Charles is showing no signs of buckling under the strain. He had his best game of the season last week against the Tennessee Titans with 108 rushing yards and a touchdown along with five catches.

How long that will continue is up for debate. That's why it's imperative the Chiefs develop another threat, someone who can take some of the pressure off of Charles.

Adam Teicher

ESPN Kansas City Chiefs reporter

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