Arrowhead Report: Charles, McCluster Not Dwelling On Fumbles

Posted Sep 15, 2011

Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster moving forward from Week One fumbles

Two of the Chiefs most explosive play-makers say they aren’t reeling after a pair of fumbles turned into two Buffalo scores last Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Fumbles struck multi-dimensional return man Dexter McCluster on the game’s opening kickoff and Pro Bowl RB Jamaal Charles in the second quarter of last week’s loss. The turnovers helped Buffalo build a 20-0 advantage before halftime.

“At that moment, you really have to let it go,” McCluster said of fumbling the season’s opening kick. “It happened and it happened early, but you have to put it behind you and keep trying to make plays.”

Though none of the Chiefs offensive numbers were impressive last Sunday, McCluster finished as the Chiefs leading receiver with five receptions for 25 yards and as the team’s second-leading rusher with four carries for 42 yards. His workload was consistent with what head coach Todd Haley had projected during the preseason.

Haley previously said he’d like to see McCluster receive between eight and 10 offensive touches each game.

For Charles, holding onto the football was an unexpected issue during the preseason. He lost two red zone fumbles in the preseason finale against Green Bay before coughing up the football in Kansas City’s regular season opener.

Fumbles were an issue early in Charles’ career, but his 2010 season put much of that criticism to rest. He lost just two fumbles in a career-high 275 touches last season (230 rushes, 45 receptions). Over the course of his four-year career, Charles has fumbled 10 times in 1,195 total touches (497 rushes, 117 receptions, 51 returns).

“I’m not worried about the fumbles,” Charles said. “I know that my job is to protect the ball as a runner and I’m not going out there and being (careless) with the football. Every time I turn it over it really hurts me, but at the same time I have to move on to the next play.”

Fumbles can be the result of trying to do too much while on the field. Charles is adamant that’s not the case following a career-year that garnered Pro Bowl recognition last season.

“No, that’s not what’s going on at all,” Charles said. “I’m just going out there and playing ball. I’m just trying to improve and can’t worry about what I was able to do last year. This is a new year and we play new (teams) this year, so I can’t worry about what I did last season. I’m worried about what I can do to play my best and make my team better.”

Haley hasn’t lost faith in either player despite the Week One turnovers. He is, however, preaching the importance of ball security.

“I have not lost confidence in any of these players,” Haley said. “I feel very good about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and we just need to be better. That’s the bottom line. We need to be better. We need to do things better, specific things especially, which is to protect the football and create turnovers.”

 “It’s not just Jamaal, it’s anybody that’s carrying the football. There’s a direct correlation between that plus/minus and win/loss. There’s no other stat that’s even close.”

Houston’s Quick Progression

A reporter recently walked up to rookie OLB Justin Houston and asked him when he’d be available to write a feature story on the third-round draft pick.

“When I start making some plays,” Houston answered.

Houston’s response resembles those he gave throughout the preseason despite leading the Chiefs with 2.0 sacks and disrupting plays in the backfield on numerous occasions. He’s quietly gone about his business since missing the first week of training camp because of a holdout.

He’s quietly moved up the depth chart as well.

“I think he came in behind a little bit and did a great job of catching up,” Haley said. “While he was out there on the field throughout the preseason, practice and games, you saw a guy that made progress every day.”

Houston was a surprise starter last weekend, getting the nod over Andy Studebaker at left outside linebacker. After playing the majority of first-team snaps opposite Tamba Hali, Houston was officially moved to the top of the depth chart earlier this week.

Though Studebaker did register a handful of defensive snaps in the season opener, his primary role came on special teams. Houston played on the left edge in base sets with Cameron Sheffield substituting in sub-package looks.

“Nobody played good in the game last week, but there were signs of encouragement and (Houston) is working real hard with the rest of the guys out there in trying to make sure we’re a better team this week, a much a better team this week, than we were last week,” Haley said.

Injury Report

The Chiefs injury report remained the same Thursday afternoon with WR Jonathan Baldwin held out of action. He continues to take the field for stretching and other individual periods, but has yet to participate in any team repetitions during the regular season.

Chiefs Injury Report

WR Jonathan Baldwin – Did Not Participate in Practice (Thumb)

In Detroit, All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson missed his second consecutive day of practice after turning his left ankle in the season opener against Tampa Bay. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch was back at practice Thursday afternoon. Vanden Bosch’s absence from Wednesday’s session was not injury related.

Lions Injury Report

S Louis Delmas - Did Not Participate in Practice (Hip)

DT Nick Fairley - Did Not Participate in Practice (Foot)

T Jason Fox - Did Not Participate in Practice (Foot

WR Calvin Johnson - Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)

CB Alphonso Smith –Limited Participation (Foot)

WR Maurice Stovall – Limited Participation (Hand)

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