Kansas City Chiefs

Haley says Chiefs' backfield balancing act no problem

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —There's plenty of angst in Kansas City over the Chiefs and their liberal use of Thomas Jones as their featured running back instead of Jamaal Charles.

The one place where it's seemingly not much of an issue is at the Chiefs' coaching offices at their Truman Sports Complex practice facility.

"It is in no way a problem for us," coach Todd Haley said. "So far, through two games in the first quarter of the season, I would grade us as being successful."

That's a reference to their 2-0 record as the Chiefs prepare for Sunday's game against San Francisco at Arrowhead Stadium. But because the Chiefs are having problems passing consistently, there's an awareness they may need to squeeze even more from their running game.

The Chiefs are undefeated in part because of what they've been able to accomplish on the ground . They're fifth in the league in rushing yardage.

But they've been more efficient when giving the ball to Charles, who is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has Kansas City's only rushing touchdown, than when they've handed it to Jones, who gets 3.7 yards per carry. Charles also delivered the Chiefs' only pass reception of longer than 20 yards.

Jones, though, has far more carries than Charles. Jones has 33, Charles 22.

Haley acknowledged the problem in preparing a game plan that heavily involves both players.

"That's not easy," he said. "It's easier on some teams. We have a clear-cut plan going in on how we want to do things with each guy. But this is a fluid game, and there are a lot of variables involved. We saw some (inclement) weather in the first game, and we saw some different conditions in the second game and different situations. Then you must be able to adjust in the way you see fit that gives you the best chance to win.

"As I've said couple of times, from a depth standpoint, we don't have a ton. One of our deeper positions is running back. That means we've got a couple of real good players in my opinion, maybe three and maybe four. We'll see as we go forward. Some way we need to figure a way for them to contribute."

That's easier for the third and fourth backs, Dexter McCluster and Jackie Battle.

"Dexter McCluster is contributing some returns on special teams, he's playing some receiver, he's playing some running back," Haley said. "Jackie Battle is playing 19, 20-some plays a game on special teams. We saw him in the preseason that he clearly looked like he was making progress and has got a chance to be a running back in this league. But right now it's those 20-some plays he's contributing (on), not to say he won't have some plays on offense to contribute.

"Now you get into the other two, Jamaal and Thomas. We need to do similar-type things. We feel like they're two of our real good players that have a chance (again) to be real good players and have proved it at different times in each of their careers, one a little longer career than the other.

"We've got to utilize the weapons we have and those guys are both weapons. That's part of this process we're in, figuring out what each week gives us the best chance to win."

For years the Chiefs haven't had much of a decision about whom to place in their backfield or whom to give the ball . First it was Priest Holmes, then Larry Johnson and last year, Charles, who ran for almost 1,000 yards over the season's final eight games.

This year they added Jones, who knowingly entered the situation.

"We've got more and more guys that are understanding that it's not about who starts and it's not about who finishes," Haley said, "but it's about the result and about what they can do to help that result."

For his part, Charles at least publicly stated he's OK sharing with Jones, though that speech may have been on orders from his superiors. At times Charles seems to be pressing by trying to make the big play every time he touches the ball.

"Not to get too deep into it because I know it's such a hot-button subject right now, but I don't get concerned about it," guard Brian Waters said. "We've had situations in the past where there's been some animosity between the guys, but that's not the case in this particular situation. Both guys understand their roles. I think both guys like each other. They like being around each other. They support each other. "That's why I don't think it's a big situation in this locker room."