Veteran RB Jamaal Charles hopes to ‘be a spark’ for Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Telvin Smith broke toward the sideline during practice Wednesday and had newly signed running back Jamaal Charles in his sights.
For a second anyway.
Smith said Charles “hit me with a little step” that got the linebacker’s attention and gave everyone else a glimpse of what the four-time Pro Bowl selection still has to offer to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I said, ‘OK, OK,’” Smith said. “It was good to see him get out there and move and have that step. We’re just ready to see that on Sunday.”
The Jaguars (3-2) signed Charles to a one-year contract Tuesday and expect him to contribute at Dallas (2-3) on Sunday.
Jacksonville will be without Leonard Fournette for the fourth time in six games and lost third-stringer Corey Grant to a season-ending foot injury. The team also signed running back Dave Williams off Denver’s practice squad.
All eyes were on Charles, though. And for good reason.
The 31-year-old running back had a successful career in Kansas City and insisted he has plenty to offer despite tearing a ligament in his right knee in 2015 and needing a second surgery the following year. Charles also tore a ligament in his left knee in 2011.
“I can’t look back and get those years back, but I’m excited where I’m at right now,” said Charles, who played 14 games as a backup in Denver last year. “I feel good. I feel like last year was just trying to get back the feel of the game and get back to healthy again. Now I’ve been out for a while, but I’ve also had time to get my body right and get stronger and get healthy, so I feel great.”
The Jaguars certainly need a boost on offense.
Fournette is out indefinitely, quite possibly until after the team’s Week 9 bye, and is one of four starters sidelined. Receiver Marqise Lee (knee) and left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) are out for the season, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (core muscle) is out at least eight games. Backup left tackle Josh Wells (groin) also won’t play against Dallas, leaving Jacksonville with its third starter (Josh Walker) at the all-important position.
Making the situation more dire, center Brandon Linder (back) and guard Andrew Norwell (foot) also missed practice Wednesday.
“It’s difficult,” coach Doug Marrone said. “It’s adversity, and it gives us a chance to show where we can improve ourselves and do a better job. No one ever feels sorry for you, and we don’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“I kind of get excited. It’s a great challenge. It’s a challenge to play in this league when you get to the level where you’re bringing people in that are getting ready to play for you. I’m excited for those guys to have an opportunity, and I’m excited for us as coaches to see how we can use those players and the players that we have to the best of our ability.”
Charles worked out for New Orleans in May and had a more recent interview with Washington.
But his first offer came from Jacksonville. He was more than willing to jump on a plane and head east from his home near Houston.
“I want to win a Super Bowl,” Charles said. “That’s why I kept my options open because I did want to win. I want to win a Super Bowl and they have a good chance to do that, so I came here to contribute.”
Charles has 7,556 yards rushing and 44 touchdowns, plus 2,586 yards receiving and 20 more scores.
He will play behind T.J. Yeldon for now, a part-time role that gets him back on the field and gives him another chance to prove his worth.
“I’m just trying to bring energy, excitement, big plays and show them that I can still play,” he said. “I want to give them a new boost, get them hyped, get them excited that I’m here. Be like a spark, you know what I’m saying, a spark to the fire and hope that we can make a flame.”