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Jamaal Charles ready for ‘his shot’ to make the team

The 30-year-old running back is ready for his 2017 preseason debut against the Packers on Saturday.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles is done answering questions about his knee, his health, his comeback with the Broncos.

“Is Saturday an opportunity to prove yourself?

“Are you feeling extra pressure?”

“Will you be the ‘old Jamaal’ out there?”

“Are you playing without the brace?”

“Do you trust your knee without the brace?”

“Do you think about your previous knee injuries?”

“Do you feel 100 percent physically?”

“Are you anxious about playing in a game?”

He just wants to play football, damnit.

“I’m not even worrying about [another injury],” Charles said Tuesday after practice. “As I always believe, if it’s supposed to happen, it’s going to happen. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be and right now I’m just going out there and playing freely.”

The former-Chiefs-turned-Broncos running back is not expected to wear a knee brace during Saturday’s third preseason game against the Packers, but he is expected to play a lot.

Coach Vance Joseph said the running back will be involved early, “probably during the first 15 plays.”

“I’m not sure what we’re going to see on Saturday, but he looked great today,” Joseph said Tuesday. “He looked great last week. He is wanting to play football, so hopefully, for him it goes well.”

Joseph said on Monday that he doesn’t expect Charles to play in the fourth preseason game, so this is his chance.

“This is going to be Jamaal’s shot to go do his thing,” the coach said. “He knows it. He’s ready.”

If only reporters would stop asking him if he is actually ready.

Of course he is.

“Every time I step on the field, it’s an opportunity to show people what I can do,” he said. “I don’t try to do too much. I try not to put pressure on me. I’ve been playing football going on 10 years, and I’ve been playing football since high school and Pop Warner. Just go out there and have fun, that’s the most exciting thing. Go out there and just have fun and let it come to you.”

Competing in a crowded backfield that includes presumed starter C.J. Anderson, rookie sensation De’Angelo Henderson, veteran back Stevan Ridley plus Juwan Thompson, Charles is no automatic on the roster. But since last year’s No. 2 - Devontae Booker - is out the first part of the season recovering from wrist surgery, the opening has widened.

And there’s little reason to think Charles, NFL’s all-time leader for average yards per carry among running backs, won’t make the squad given reports of his performance in camp so far.

“I’ve always been Jamaal. Jamaal never went anywhere,” he said of what to expect from him this weekend, adding that he’s back to his normal weight and ready to go. “I feel like I’m back to my normal me.”

The 30-year-old running back played just eight games over his past two seasons because of injury - and you can remind him of that all you want.

He’s not going to argue. He’s just going to go play.

“I’m excited to just play football again basically,” he said. “Everybody is making a big deal. It’s just football to me.”

Poll

Do you expect Charles to make the Broncos’ final roster?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Of course. Can’t wait to see him get those yards wearing Orange & Blue this time.
    (744 votes)
  • 35%
    I’ll tell you after Saturday.
    (452 votes)
  • 5%
    No - I’m a Chiefs fan and I can’t allow Broncos fans to have nice things.
    (74 votes)
1270 votes total Vote Now