Jamaal Charles will return to Chiefs next season, GM says

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles played in only five games during the 2015 season. John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware did a nice job of keeping the Kansas City Chiefs' running game alive the last several games of the season, but general manager John Dorsey left no doubt Jamaal Charles will be their featured back next season, when he's ready.

"I think he may be ahead of schedule in terms of his rehabilitation," Dorsey said. "The guy is an extremely talented player. I love him to death, love how dirty tough he is.

"Yeah, he's a Chief."

Dorsey's comment ended any speculation the Chiefs may use West, Ware, Knile Davis or some combination of the three as their featured runner next season and move on from Charles, who will turn 30 late next season.

West and Ware combined to rush for 10 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards in the season's final 11 games, after Charles tore the ACL in his right knee in an Oct. 11 game against the Chicago Bears at Arrowhead Stadium.

The issue is when Charles will be ready. He tore his left ACL in a September 2011 game against the Lions in Detroit but was back for the start of the 2012 season. That was a big season for Charles with a career-high 1,509 rushing yards.

His latest injury happened about three weeks later in the season than the last time. But it's still reasonable to believe, particularly if he's ahead of schedule with his rehab, that Charles could be ready to play in September.

"I've always thought it was in that nine-, 10-month window," Dorsey said, talking about a general rehab window for players who have a torn ACL. "With the surgical procedures and the way they are today, guys have come back a lot faster than they have in years past."

Using nine months as a best-case scenario, Charles would be ready by mid-July, or in time for the start of training camp. Even a 10-month rehab would give him about a month before the start of the regular season.