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With Chiefs' Charles out, Davis, Gray get chances

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | 6:22 p.m. CDT
Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis runs through the tackle of Carolina Panthers' Charles Godfrey, right, and Bene Benwikere during the first half Sunday.

KANSAS CITY — Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray got a chance to showcase themselves in the Chiefs' preseason game in Carolina.

They may get another opportunity against Minnesota on Saturday.

Jamaal Charles was held out of practice Tuesday after the Pro Bowl running back hurt his foot in a freak accident while moving out of the dorms at Missouri Western last week.

So as training camp shifted back to Kansas City, it was Davis and Gray who were lining up for first-team snaps.

"It's next man up," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "We have the running back-by-committee right now. There are a lot of guys vying for spots."

True, but Davis and Gray have their spots relatively secure.

Especially if Charles is still banged up by the time the regular season rolls around.

Davis ran for 240 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie last season, and showed flashes of brilliance when Charles went down with a concussion in the Chiefs' playoff loss to Indianapolis. He ran for 67 yards and a score before leaving with an injury.

Meanwhile, Gray has proven to be a valuable member of the special teams his first seasons in the league, and now may finally get his chance to show what he can do with the offense.

He had a team-high 10 carries for 44 yards in Thursday night's loss to the Panthers.

"I've seen a lot of improvement in them," said Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who has had to track down both of them during 11-on-11 work in training camp.

"Cyrus has been a guy that's running with the second or third team, and he gave me a move yesterday that I've got to get him back for. It's one of those things where the level of competition from the twos and threes is going way up. And Knile, I can't say enough about him."

Davis arrived in Kansas City amid a swirl of questions about his health and his hands. He spent plenty of time in the training room at Arkansas, and his penchant for fumbling was a big reason why he slipped into the third round of the draft despite prototypical size and speed.

Yet aside from the injury against the Colts, Davis has been able to absorb all the bumps and bruises that come with playing running back in the NFL. And while he fumbled three times, he also showed good enough hands that special teams coach Dave Toub had him return kickoffs.

"The one thing that he did was he worked extremely hard to get himself healthy again during this offseason because of what happened to him in the playoff game," Pederson said. "But I'm 100 percent confident in what he can do. He brings a lot to us, He's an explosive running back, he's a physical running back, and again, this will be a big camp for him."

Davis said he spent much of his offseason critiquing his performance from last season.

"When I looked at myself, I wasn't patient. That's something I want to work on this year is being patient on blocks and getting through the holes," he said. "You have the mindset of all the suspense, and sometimes you try to hit it too early, but the great ones are very patient."

Patience is a good way to segue into talking about Gray, who arrived in Kansas City with little fanfare. Charles gets the majority of carries and Davis represents a bruising, change-of-pace back, and that has left Gray to spend most of his time blocking and tackling on special teams.

He has just 16 carries for 68 yards in his career.

Yet biding his time may finally be paying off. He had 10 carries for 55 yards and a score in the Chiefs' preseason opener against Cincinnati, and had another good game against Carolina.

"Cyrus last year really was a contributor on special teams, not quite as much on offense," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "He has worked on his overall game and did some pretty good things."


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