Jamaal Charles met with the media for the first time during fall training camp, and the Kansas City Chiefs running back was happy to report that not only is he full-go physically during practice, but that he’s feeling stronger mentally than he ever has.
No. 25 is looking ahead at the regular season, which is now just over one week away, and he’s excited for what lies ahead.
“I am ‘full go’ right now. I’m out here, I’m practicing and I can’t be happier about where I’m at,” Jamaal said. “The first time was totally different. The first time I tore it in the second game, and this time I tore it in the fifth game. The doctor told me, ‘When you have an ACL tear, don’t treat it like you did the first one. It’s totally different just like every knee is different.’ I’ve just got to trust myself and where I’m at with it.”
That level of trust and courage isn’t inherent in everyone. As Jamaal told the media, he could just as easily have hung up his cleats and traded the training table for a comfy couch. But faith has imbued JC with internal strength and motivation.
“I’ve learned a lot in my life; both in my past and where I’m at now. Being baptized, reading The Bible and understanding the word, I feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot in both my physical and spiritual life. That’s holding me right now. If I didn’t have all of that, I might be losing my mind at this point. I might be thinking, ‘Oh man, why isn’t my knee getting better? There’s people in front of me.’ But [my faith] is holding me. I’m being joyful, thankful and giving thanks in these times. Like I said before, I could be sitting on the couch watching TV,” Jamaal said. “In addition, the funny thing with me is, I’m faster than normal people. I’m faster than all of you holding the cameras right now. I’m faster than some of my teammates. You may not see that directly, but I’m faster than some of the guys I’m going up against. I learned that a long time ago from one of my coaches when I was at Texas. My coach said, ‘Jamaal, it’s okay. Even though you have a limp and a bad ankle, you’re still faster than the guys next to you.’ I know I’ve received God-given talent. It’s God’s glory allowing me to come back from two ACL tears. I hope it inspires kids and others going through similar situations. It’s going to make me better.”
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has been asked often about the status of his star running back, as well as linebacker Tamba Hali. Hali is also returning from a knee injury, but as Reid explained, the hard work put in by both of his stars on the mend has them looking better each day.
“It looks like every day they’re getting a little bit better,” Reid said. “They’re moving around pretty good and they’re getting a lot of work – which is important. And they’re pushing themselves. We’ve kind of eased them into this point here and we’ll keep giving them a little bit more as we go. Both of them – you don’t have to worry about the work ethic – it’s just a matter of knocking some of the rust off. For Jamaal it’s getting trust in the leg and so every day he does a little bit more – his cuts are a little bit sharper. It’s just a matter of time and we’re okay with that.”
Jamaal has shown just that on the practice field: constant improvement. Before team practices, JC puts in extra time with the training staff, working on strengthening his knee and leg. He feels fantastic about his speed and where he’s at so far in the rehabilitation process.
“When I step on the field, even just at practice, I’m able to work hard and be myself just to show everyone out here that I’m good to go,” Jamaal says. “When we get into games, I’ll do what it takes to get ready, but I won’t do it to that extent. Before our own practices, I try to do so much and at a high level to get the knee stronger before I come out.”
Reid didn’t make a prediction as to when either JC or Hali would return, and Jamaal held a similar mindset. The Port Arthur, Texas native explained that he’s simply focusing on the present and letting God handle the rest.
“I’m not sure. I’m ready for whatever the coaches ask. I’m ready, happy, and looking forward to getting on the field,” JC said. “When my time comes, it’s going to come. It’s not on my time, it’s on God’s time.”