Up for the Battle

Posted Aug 8, 2010

Jackie Battle is embracing the increase in competition among the Chiefs running backs

The landscape of the Chiefs running back corps has changed drastically since Jackie Battle went on injured reserve last October 14th. When Battle suffered the season-ending shoulder injury vs. Dallas, he was joined by running backs Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Dantrell Savage on the Chiefs active roster. Of those three, only Charles is still a member of the organization.

Battle is now fully-recovered from in-season shoulder surgery and is once again in the thick of competition for a roster spot this training camp. With Charles’ emergence, the addition of Pro Bowler Thomas Jones and a roster full of other rushing candidates, including rookie Dexter McCluster, some players in Battle shoes might feel a bit discouraged.

Not Jackie Battle.

“There is a lot of competition and we’re going to be a lot better at a bunch of positions this year,” Battle said. “A lot better.”

Most seem to think that one of those positions will be running back. Along with Battle, the Chiefs have a total of seven runners competing for a job in the backfield. A bigger back, Battle has the proven ability to play a cross-over between fullback and tailback. Thus far in camp, Battle has taken his reps as the latter.

“I think that we all bring something different to the table,” Battle said of the Chiefs running backs. “We’ve got every different kind of rushing style in the backfield. Dexter is electric. I mean, he’s the quickest player I’ve ever seen. Thomas Jones is like the leader of leaders, he can bring everybody up a notch. He’s really the best locker room guy that I’ve ever been around.”

And, of course, Battle has also taken notice of Charles as well.

“Jamaal is going to be Jamaal,” Battle said. “He can pop at any time. He’s really got something that’s special.”

Battle has been primarily worked with the reserves at halfback this training camp, but he also looks to have found an opportunity to differentiate himself from the load of talented runners. On two separate occasions during Saturday’s scrimmage, Battle was called from the sidelines and onto the field with the first-team offense. On both occasions the scenario was a short-yardage situation in which Battle received the football.

During Wednesday night’s practice under the lights, Battle went up and over a pile of defenders for a short-yardage touchdown. On Saturday, Battle found the end zone once more from a yard out.

“In college that’s all that I did,” Battle said. “I was a short-yardage back at Houston and I’m hoping that I can bring that aspect of my game to the Chiefs.”

The niche is something that Battle will attack this training camp, but he also remembers the role that has gotten him a place on the Chiefs active roster since 2007. Special teams.

Battle has always been a reliable special teams player. Over his three-plus years on the Chiefs roster, the coverage units have been where Battle has earned his livelihood. Possessing a combination of size and speed, Battle knows that special teams play will once again play a big role in making the Chiefs roster.

“Right now I’m just focusing on competing for some carries at running back and also trying to step my game up in special teams,” Battle said. “I’ll contribute anywhere that I can.”

Battle is the perfect example of a player who is embracing the increase in competition throughout the Chiefs roster. As the preseason continues, Battle will have plenty of opportunities to show himself as a running back, short-yardage back and special teams player. He might even get a rep or two at fullback before it’s all over.

“Wherever they need me, I’m willing to play.” Battle said. “That’s all that there is to it; wherever they need me.”

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