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Chiefs will proceed cautiously with Jamaal Charles this spring

Posted Mar 28, 2012

Team optimistic with injury rehabilitation as offseason program approaches

Advances in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction techniques continue to evolve at a tremendous rate.

Surgical procedures and materials have undergone dramatic changes in recent years, allowing athletes suffering ACL tears a faster and more reliable path back to the playing field.

However, even with recent medical advances, ACL reconstruction remains an inexact science. Every athlete responds differently.

For that reason, Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel plans to handle the return of Pro Bowl RB Jamaal Charles cautiously this spring.

“You don’t want him coming back too soon and then reinjuring himself,” Crennel said from the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida. “You talk to them about that, you have the trainer talk about it, his physician has to talk about it because when they do start feeling good, they want to do more.

“Then, you can do some preventative things also by fitting them with a brace and letting them work with a brace for a while until the knee gets stronger and they gain some stability.”

Charles began running in cleats last month while rehabbing with knee specialists outside Kansas City. It’s been about six months since Charles underwent surgery to repair a torn left ACL suffered Week Two of the 2011 season at Detroit.

Recovery time for ACL injuries generally averages between six and nine months.

“Jamaal stopped by the office recently,” Crennel said. “He came in for a check-up and he stopped by the office and I had a chance to talk to him and he was saying that his knee is doing well. He is running straight ahead, so he is making good progress.

“The trainer says he is on schedule, his rehab people say he is on schedule, so we’re excited about that news. Now, with that being said, you always have to wait until you get them on the field to see how they really do, but it’s optimistic right now.”

Charles is likely to see an abbreviated workload when OTAs begin in late May. The same goes for TE Tony Moeaki and S Eric Berry, who suffered left knee injuries within three weeks of Charles.

The Chiefs are hopeful each player will be ready for training camp in late July.

While Charles is being eased into action, free agent addition Peyton Hillis will receive an extended opportunity to work his way into Kansas City’s offensive plans for 2012.

“I think he’s going to be a complement (to Charles) because a couple of years ago when he was in Cleveland, he ran, he caught, he blocked,” Crennel said of Hillis, who turned in a career-season working with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in 2010. “He kind of does it all. I think that his relationship with Daboll, where he had that kind of success. I think he feels good about it and how he is going to be used, so we’re going to use him in several different ways.”

New CBA procedures break the NFL offseason program into three phases spanning over nine weeks.

The first phase consists of two weeks of strength and conditioning work. Phase Two allows coaches to run players through individual drills for three weeks. The third and final phase allows for 10 OTA sessions and a mini-camp permitting helmets, but no pads.

Teams hiring new head coaches are permitted an extra mini-camp prior the NFL Draft, but the Chiefs won’t benefit from that rule because Crennel was promoted from within.

Phase One of the Chiefs offseason program begins on April 16th.

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