NFL Predictions 2011: Jamaal Charles Will Be the NFL's Rushing Leader
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Three years ago, the Kansas City Chiefs took a chance on former University of Texas running back Jamaal Charles.
They snatched him up in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft, with hopes that he could one day supplant then-fading star Larry Johnson.
Little did the Chiefs know, but Charles would not only supplant Johnson, but also become on of the best running backs in the NFL in just three short years.
However, the NFL hasn't always been easy for the Port Arthur, Texas native.
In his rookie season in '08, Charles started just two games, while rushing for only 357 yards on 67 carries.
For most of the campaign, he was buried on the depth chart behind starter Larry Johnson and former fifth-round pick Kolby Smith.
Then, 2009 rolled around and in came new head coach Todd Haley.
Charles got some playing time towards the beginning of the season, only to see himself get benched by Haley after a series of fumbling issues.
It wasn't until about half-way though the season when Charles would get his big chance again to start at running back for the Chiefs.
Needless to say, number 25 made the most of his chances.
He would rush for 1,120 yards that year, with a 5.9 YPC average and added seven TDs on the ground as well.
The '10 season was much of the same for Charles, as he finished second in the league in rushing to Houston's Arian Foster with 1,467 rushing yards.
Now, with the 2011 regular season set to kick off for the Chiefs this Sunday, the expectations for Jamaal Charles are soaring through the roof in what will be his fourth NFL season.
Charles is primed to be one of the best running backs in the league this year. I believe this will be the year the he will lead the league in rushing.
He has many things in his favor to accomplish this feat.
First of all, KC's current backup Thomas Jones is 33 years old, and has already shown signs of deteriorating towards the end of his last two seasons in the league.
With Jones getting fewer carries this year, this should open up the door for JC to pick up more opportunities in the Kansas City ground game.
Another factor in Charles' favor is the recent issues with last season's leading rusher Arian Foster.
Foster has been battling a hamstring injury this preseason and it's unclear how much it will affect him once his season begins this weekend.
When you add these two factors together, the road for Charles to become the NFL's leading rusher just got a lot easier.
This is, of course, unless another unknown running back, like Foster, steals the rushing crown for a second-straight season.
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