Charles, 28, went down on a non-contact injury midway through the third quarter of Sunday's 18-17 loss to the Chicago Bears. Head coach Andy Reid confirmed preliminary tests showed a torn ACL after the game. Ahead by two scores at the time, Kansas City allowed the Bears to score 15 unanswered points in their comeback victory.
"From there, production quit," quarterback Alex Smith said of the Chiefs' performance after Charles' injury, per Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. "I don't know if that was it or what. Offensively, we went into a shell there for a little while, you know, and just didn't get anything done. Had some decent field position, really had a chance to really put that game away with some first downs and just three and out, three and out. It didn't help the defense at all."
This is the second time an ACL tear has prematurely ended Charles' season. In 2011, he was limited to two games after blowing out his left knee. Charles returned in 2012 and reclaimed his status among the NFL's best running backs, posting three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons while averaging more than five yards per carry.
Charles was well on his way to another sterling campaign before going down in Week 5, posting 364 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 21 receptions for 177 yards and a score.
Unlike his 2011 injury, however, Charles is no longer in the middle of his prime. He'll turn 29 on Dec. 27, putting him dangerously close to his dreaded 30th birthday. With the running back due a $3 million roster bonus and $2.75 million base salary for 2016, per Spotrac, it's possible the Chiefs will begin considering their lives post-Charles. His contract does not come with any dead money, so the team could move on without incurring any salary-cap costs.
For now, the Chiefs are merely left to pick up the pieces of a lost season. At 1-4 and without their most dynamic offensive weapon, the playoffs look totally out of the question.
Charcandrick West and Knile Davis will split time behind Smith for the rest of the season, and neither brings remotely the same level of explosiveness. Davis averages 3.4 yards per carry for his career, while West is a former undrafted free agent who has 12 NFL carries to his name.
Things are going to get uglier before they get better in Kansas City.
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