KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has his share of fans ranging from teammates to franchise supporters.
Charles has made his mark since entering the league in 2008 and his fourth-quarter heroics in the past three games recently led quarterback Alex Smith to offer laudatory comments.
“He’s extremely talented and he just continues to get better and better as the game goes on,” Smith said this week. “The fourth quarter has really been his time the last few weeks. It’s been fun to watch. He’s a great player and he’s playing really well right now.”
While it’s only natural for teammates to compliment Charles, he’ll find an unlikely admirer on the opposing sideline when the Chiefs take on the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.
Titans safety Bernard Pollard won’t be mistaken as a nice guy on the football field.
He’s known for high-impact plays and has a reputation as one of the league’s hardest hitters, not surprising for a player whose Twitter handle is @Crushboy31.
Nevertheless, mention Charles’ name and there’s a noticeable softness to Pollard’s voice.
“Man, Jamaal is playing outstanding,” Pollard said during Wednesday’s media conference call. “He’s someone I really enjoy watching not just because I was there with him. I’ve seen him grow from his rookie year to now.”
Then-Chiefs coach Herm Edwards drafted Pollard in the second round as the 54th player overall of the 2006 NFL Draft, while Charles went in the third round as the 74th player overall of the 2008 NFL Draft.
And Pollard’s departure from Kansas City in 2009 hasn’t stopped him from watching from afar.
“Herm Edwards had a plan – you kind of look at the two different head coaches who have been able to see the products under Herm – but it’s just one of those things where Jamaal is something special.” Pollard said. “He is something special.”
Still, Pollard said he thinks Charles could wear down as the season progresses given his current workload.
The sixth-year running back’s 70 rushing attempts is currently ninth-most in the league and Charles’ 23 receptions is tied for first with Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte and New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles among NFL rushers.
Charles’ 502 yards from scrimmage (289 rushing, 213 receiving) leads the AFC and is second in the NFL only to Philadelphia Eagles rusher LeSean McCoy’s 608 yards from scrimmage.
But despite Pollard’s concerns over Charles potentially wearing down, he remained steadfast in his admiration.
“He’s one of the best top five backs in the league,” Pollard said of Charles. “He’s receiving and rushing for yards. He’s playing great ball.”
In the meantime, Sunday marks the third time Pollard will face the Chiefs since he left Kansas City. The previous two meetings resulted in a 35-31 win for Pollard’s Houston Texans in 2010 and last season’s 9-6 victory for Pollard’s Baltimore Ravens.
Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, Pollard said he looks forward to seeing former teammates and slipped in a final compliment.
“It’s going to be fun to be able to play against him, see him, (Branden) Albert and (Dwayne) Bowe and a lot of those guys,” Pollard said. “Jamaal is playing great ball.”