It’s been 272 days since Charles last wore a helmet and lined up in Kansas City’s backfield. He’s been regulated to strength and agility work on a side field throughout all of this offseason’s OTAs and minicamp practice as he continues to rehab the left knee that gave way in Detroit.
But to Charles, the layoff doesn’t matter. He doesn’t just expect to be ready for the start of training camp some six weeks from now. Charles believes he could play in a game if one were scheduled for today.
“I’m fixed and I’m just going to let my body go,” Charles declared following Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “I’m just going to play crazy and play wild. I’m not holding back anything because I’m fixed.
“I haven’t practiced in eight months, I’ll say. It hasn’t been a year, but it’s been eight months. I feel like I’m ready to go and when they let that cape off of me, I’m ready to go. I’m ready to put my cleats back on and ready to punish everybody in my way.”
Eight months and 29 days to be exact.
Charles’ health will officially go under the microscope on Monday when he meets with doctors to determine his readiness to resume full football activities.
In many ways the visit seems like a final double-check. Both Charles and the Chiefs have been publicly positive regarding the running back’s progress for several months.
“I’m not doing rehab,” Charles said. “It’s more like working out every day. I work out and I do what everybody else [does]. I go home at the end of the day. I’ve just got to keep my feet up, ice my leg and take care of my body, eat right. From now when I leave here, I’ve just got to go back to Texas and work hard.
Aside from his health, the Chiefs hope Charles will enter training camp up-and-running on the mental aspect of learning new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s playbook.
Though he hasn’t taken any team or individual repetitions, Charles has participated in mental walkthroughs and positional meetings throughout the preseason. Free agent addition
“I like the plays, all the formations we have and the play-calling,” Charles said of Daboll’s offensive system. “He puts the players in a great spot to make some great plays, and I think we’ve got a lot of plays to keep a lot of defenses off-balance this year.
“It’s just more formations and more inside and outside plays with me, Peyton and other guys too. I think he’s going to really keep the defenses off-balance. When Miami played us here, the defense here was off-balance; I know our defense said they were off-balance. I know when we play other teams, they may say the same thing.”
Charles has also been active in post-practice conditioning drills throughout the offseason.
He ran gassers with teammates following Wednesday’s minicamp practice and has frequented Priest Holmes’ old running hill behind the team’s training facility.
“I feel faster than anyone on the team still,” Charles said. “Just going out there and running with my teammates, running the gassers today just made me feel better and I can run when I want to run like I used to.”
Speed is Charles’ game. Without pads and away from a football-specific setting he certainly looks like the player who owns a career rushing average of 6.1 yards per attempt.
Whether or not Charles’ recovery translates to the football field, it appears we’ll find out soon.
“I know I’m ready to play,” Charles said. “It’s just that even though we’re doing minicamp and all that, just getting my body rested up so when real training camp starts up, it’ll be ready to go.”