KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jamaal Charles sprained his ankle against Denver. He had it twisted at a gruesome angle against Arizona. His knee has repeatedly swollen up after games. He took such a blow Sunday against Oakland that he was administered a concussion test on the sideline.
Heck, the star running even hurt himself tripping over a curb while moving out of the dorms when the Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up training camp so many months ago.
In other words, Knile Davis picked a nice time to show up over the weekend.
The backup running back had largely disappeared since early in the season, when he had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games with Charles nursing his ankle. But he was crucial in a 31-13 win over the Raiders, running for a touchdown while Charles was going through the concussion protocol and then catching a 70-yard touchdown pass to help put the game away.
"I'm happy for Knile. Every week he comes to practice and doesn't say a word," Charles said after the game. "He comes to the game, and sometimes he doesn't get any reps and I'll be like, 'Man, let him loose.' But he comes in when I'm down and makes plays for me."
Charles acknowledged that "injuries have been killing me this year," a big reason why he's only carried 184 times for 950 yards. That puts him on pace for his worst season since his rookie year, not counting the 2011 season that he mostly missed recovering from a torn ACL.
Still, it will be hard to keep him out considering what is at stake. By knocking off Oakland, the Chiefs (8-6) maintained control of their own destiny heading to Pittsburgh this weekend. They finish up with San Diego on Dec. 28. Both of those teams are also in the playoff hunt.
"Every game is playoff-mode," Charles said. "Every game, you've got to come with it."
Charles seemed to know what was at stake when he lowered his head near the goal line in the third quarter Sunday, with the outcome still hanging in the balance. He took a shot from two Oakland defenders and appeared to be unsteady as he got to his feet. He was subbed out and Davis went in, and Reid told his top playmaker that he needed to go through the concussion testing.
The blow was reminiscent of a shot delivered by former teammate Brandon Flowers during a game against the Chargers. Charles later admitted on a radio show to seeing stars but avoided going through the concussion protocol because he didn't want to exit the game.
"Really, he was complaining of his knee and his ankle, not his head. But he did take a big hit there, so we kind of went in that direction," Reid said. "He set me straight when I came over there and he wasn't able to score that touchdown and Knile did. He wanted the ball. He wanted back in."
Charles eventually did return, but only briefly. The Chiefs put up three touchdowns in 4 minutes, 44 seconds, including the long TD catch by Davis. That allowed Charles to spend the rest of the game on the sideline, resting his knee and bothersome ankle.
"I feel good," he said. "I just think I need to get off of it and ice it and heal it and get it back right because it is still tender."
Even if Charles is limited against the Steelers, Davis proved Sunday he can help shoulder the load. The bruising running back easily scored on his touchdown run, and then showed off world-class speed when he took a short throw from Alex Smith and ran untouched for his other score.
"Like Jamaal said, every game from here forward is a playoff game. We're taking that mindset into every game," Davis said. "For me, it's just a dream to be in the NFL. To make the big plays and help this team win is just huge all around."
NOTES: DE Allen Bailey and CB Phillip Gaines are continuing to deal with concussions, Reid said Monday. LB Josh Mauga is dealing with an oblique strain that he sustained Sunday.