Training camp started Thursday, but it wouldn’t have been the same without running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Justin Houston.
Both players were at camp, which was the most important thing, because a team wants all their best players at camp.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Reid said. “Continuity is always big. The team, that’s big and getting back to work, getting yourself together as a football team.”
Charles’ holdout, if it can be called that, was the shortest in team history. The Chiefs initiated talks with Charles before camp and signed the contract Wednesday. Houston arrived within the window for veterans before Thursday.
Charles’ new contract extends through 2017 and will pay him $18.1 million for two more years. Charles will be paid $5.1 million over the next two seasons, which is a $4.4 million increase this year.
Charles didn’t want to holdout – he’s a team guy, he said – but with the production he’s given it was time for the Chiefs to compensate their best player. Charles is an elite NFL running back.
“It felt good. I would just like to thank God, first of all, and I would like to thank the Hunt family and my teammates and the fans and everybody that supported me,” Charles said. “I didn’t even want to hold out, that’s not my personality. I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to get the deal done. I could’ve held out and got more money, but I’m just happy with what I have for right now.
“I just wanted to build something here, and build a championship; I want to win a Super Bowl. It’s more than just trying to hold out, I didn’t even want to be selfish like that; that’s not my personality, I wanted to just come back and play football.”
Charles is just 248 yards away from being the Chiefs’ all-time leading rusher, and that could happen quickly this season. Last year Charles totaled 19 touchdowns between running and catching the ball, his most production as a Chief. Charles’ 35.3 percent of the Chiefs’ yards from scrimmage was the most by any player in the league. He led the Chiefs in multiple categories last season.
When asked how much Charles has left in the tank, Reid said plenty – Charles turns 28 in December.
“I think he’s got a lot in the tank,” Reid said. “We’re going to keep using him. He’s a good football player, and he enjoys playing the game, so we’ll keep getting him the football.”
Charles echoed that and said that with his running style he can keep going. Charles believes in Reid and in Reid’s ability to put him into positions to succeed.
“In the past I was known for running. Now it’s changed to a whole different level of philosophy of passing,” Charles said. “The game has changed, I like the way I’m being used and utilized, Coach Reid is a great coach and he knows how to put me in space. I just try to take advantage of every opportunity he gives to me.”
Not since running back Priest Holmes have the Chiefs had such a dual threat at running back, and recognizing that, general manager John Dorsey did the right thing. Now everybody’s happy.
“I’m just happy, my family is happy and the Chiefs are happy and the fans are happy,” Charles said.
Houston has yet to sign a new deal, but didn’t seem like a player that was upset to be at camp. A Chiefs’ fan yelled out to Houston that the Chiefs needed to pay him, but Houston just smiled back.
I observed Houston joking with his team, walking with defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and sticking close to linebacker Tamba Hali. Houston wasn’t grumbling or looking like a malcontent, but in good spirits. Houston seems satisfied to let the process play out.
“That is in God’s hands,” Houston said when asked what is happening with his contract. “I am here now to play football. I am not worrying about that. I am here to help better the team, do what the coaches ask to do.”
Houston is saying the same as quarterback Alex Smith, which is to not let a contract interfere with football.
“I’m not worrying about that contract,” Houston said. “When it’s time to happen, it’s going to happen. My main focus is football. If you’re worrying about that contract, it’ll slow you down from the things you’ve got to do on the field, and I don’t want that to happen. So my main focus is football.”
Leaving camp Thursday the skies weren’t as cloudy, and the worries of a hostile holdout between Houston and the Chiefs wasn’t there. Charles is happy, too.
Good day, Chiefs fans!
Stephen Brown is a regular contributor to the Chiefs fan website, chiefconcerns.com. To reach Brown, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See his "Chief Concerns" blog at www.examiner.net/community/blogs