Charles waiting to make playoff impact


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jamaal Charles only last week had his 27th birthday, but he hears the clock ticking on his NFL career. He's got some wear and tear on him now and he's getting to that age when running backs need to start thinking about what comes after football.

So there's a sense of urgency for Charles as he and his Kansas City Chiefs teammates prepare for Saturday's wild-card round game against the Colts in Indianapolis.

"I've been to Super Bowl games where I've sat in the stands," Charles said. "I wanted to be there [as a player]. I've been to Super Bowl events. It's boring when you're not in the Super Bowl.

"I say, "Why [can't the Chiefs] do it?' I'm here. We're in the playoffs. It's possible. Anything is possible."

For that to happen, Charles will have to be every bit of what he was during the regular season and perhaps even more.

Charles has played six NFL seasons, but this will be only his second playoff game. He was with the Chiefs in 2010 when they lost a wild-card round playoff game to the Baltimore Ravens.

Charles scored a touchdown that day but also lost a fumble, learning a valuable lesson about playoff football along the way.

"My first time, I felt like a rookie," he said. "I was excited and I wasn't careful with the ball."

Then, as now, Charles was a big part of Kansas City's offense. But in 2010, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Moeaki had big seasons and Charles had more offensive help around him.

This season, he's the engine that drives their offense. Charles is Kansas City's leading rusher, pass receiver and touchdown-maker.

The Chiefs will lean on Charles on Saturday more than they did in 2010 against Baltimore.

"I know what's at stake," he said. "I really want this. I really want to go far. If I have to put the team on my back, I will. I'm really excited to take [on] this role."

The Chiefs will certainly give the ball more to Charles than they did in their 23-7 loss to the Colts two weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium. Between rushing and receiving, Charles got the ball just 18 times.

"I never question the game plan," he said. "I know it's going to be a load on me this week."

To keep Charles fresh, the Chiefs kept him -- as well as many other starters -- out of the lineup in last week's final regular season game in San Diego.

Charles said that at least in his case, the benching made a difference.

"That was definitely crucial for me to get some rest [last] week," Charles said. "[He has] no soreness, no pain."