If you have a desire to see Jamaal Charles on the field, you’re not alone. The itch is even stronger in him.
As the veteran running back returns from a serious knee injury, the Denver Broncos have taken an ease-him-back approach through training camp and the preseason. That means he gets work in position drills and 7 vs. 7, but not much more than that.
The great sign is that Charles continues to see his reps increased as the practices and weeks goes by. That shows his body is responding to the workload and there are no effects. If that remains the case, it’s only a matter of time before we see Charles in game action.
“I'm just out here because, at the end of the day, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen,” he said Saturday after the final practice of camp. “I'm just out here happy to be able to touch the ball, make plays and continue to go out there and listen to the plays and know my assignment.
“I feel comfortable cutting and I like going on my right side more just to get used to cutting again and used to pushing out with my right side more. At the end of the day I'm out here just trying to get better every day.”
At least for the next week, it appears the plan the Broncos have had in place since mini camp will remain. Denver head coach Vance Joseph made it abundantly clear that Charles is not running out of time to make the roster. Still, even Joseph would like to see Charles get some game action ... he’s just not sure which one.
“Probably, yes,” Joseph said. “We’ve got San Fran this week, we’ve got Green Bay, and even Arizona Week 4. He’ll eventually play; it depends on the docs and how he’s feeling.”
In the meantime, what has surfaced over the course of camp and the first preseason game is the depth the Broncos have at running back. When the talk comes to who makes the roster out of this group, it’s become difficult. Not only do you have Charles, but Stevan Ridley and De’Angelo Henderson have been consistently impressive. The player who holds the most say over what Denver does at running back is injured. Until a decision is made on Devontae Booker and his status, the question is more difficult.
“Every year somebody's going to be better than somebody,” Charles replied when I asked if Henderson’s success pushes the vets. “Right now, De'Angelo is looking pretty good during camp and preseason. We just have to step up and they burn that fire in you to want to do well.”
When a rookie like Henderson shines and it makes the Broncos’ decision tougher, that’s a good thing. It means people are doing their jobs and they have depth at a position where you need it in droves in the NFL.
“I cheer for people like that,” Charles said. “I cheer for De'Angelo. He had a great game and he broke a great run. You reap what you sow. You cry about it, then it's not going to happen to you. I want that man to have as much success early on in his career because I did.”
As for when we’ll see Charles on the field, we’re still in wait-and-see mode. When it finally happens, it’ll just be that much sweeter.