Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles left his team's contest in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter after suffering an upper-leg injury—much to the despair of the NFL world.
Charles had touched the ball 17 times for a total 99 yards before staying on the ground after an unsuccessful 3rd-and-1 attempt. The coaching staff took him to the sideline and examined his leg before announcing he was questionable to return, per NFL Around the League:
Chiefs' Jamaal Charles is questionable to return with a quad injury.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) September 8, 2013
Charles would in fact return to the game despite the Chiefs having a 21-2 advantage over the hapless Jaguars, but he carried the ball just once before the coaching staff removed him for good. As ESPN's John Clayton points out, the team didn't exactly need him to win:
Jamaal Charles has returned but they don't need him to win this game.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) September 8, 2013
The return was short-lived for Charles, who finished the day with 100 total yards and one touchdown. Head coach Andy Reid said after the game that Charles is "fine" and was simply stepped on, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Much of the controversy that is and will continue to stem from this "injury" is the notion that Charles is injury prone.
That simply is not the case. Charles missed the majority of the 2011 season to injury, but a lower-leg issue is not exactly uncommon. He still managed to bounce back and carry the ball 285 times last season with little to no issues.
The notion is further backed by the fact that Charles missed the team's second preseason game this year with a foot sprain.
The fact of the matter is that this is the NFL, and Charles plays the most violent position of them all. Not only that, the league continues to further encourage low hits on ball-carriers to protect the head. Charles or any other running back incurring injuries should not be a shock.
Kansas City will have Charles back at full-go next week when the Dallas Cowboys come to town, and he's still a safe bet to put up top-five rushing numbers after putting up over 1,500 last year. The offensive line and the system—not to mention the quarterback situation—have all drastically improved around Charles.
Is Jamaal Charles' health a cause for concern?
Obviously, the Kansas City offense would look different without Charles in the backfield, so there is plenty of reason to worry about his health. However, it's important to keep things in perspective: In five seasons, Charles has missed 15 games—14 of which came in 2011.
So no, Charles is not fragile or anything of the sort. Outside of one serious injury two years ago, a minor issue in the preseason and a freak issue in Week 1 with someone stepping on his leg, Charles is about as durable as an NFL back gets these days.
If the issues continue into next week and beyond, then there is some cause for concern. As of right now, there is nothing to worry about in Kansas City as it pertains to Charles.
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