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Charles-Forte show makes Chiefs-Bears worth watching

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The Sports Xchange

KANSAS CITY — When the Chiefs face the Chicago Bears on Sunday the game will feature what might be the best all-purpose running backs in the NFL today: Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs and Chicago’s Matt Forte. Four games into the season, Forte leads the NFL with 500 offensive yards; Charles is fifth with 457 yards.

Although they came into the league together as part of the 2008 NFL Draft, they’ve never shared the field for a game like they will at Arrowhead Stadium this weekend. Forte was the 44th player selected in that year’s draft, while Charles went at No. 73. The only game between the Chiefs and Bears in the previous seven seasons was 2011, but Charles was sidelined because of a torn ACL. Forte injured his knee in that game against K.C. and missed Chicago’s last four games.

“He’s very talented, very versatile, very athletic; he can do more than one thing,” Charles said of Forte. “He can go wide receiver and run wheel routes and fade routes. The dude can play, so the defense is up for a challenge that they probably haven’t seen in a while of a running back that can do all the things that I do.”

During the most recent offseason, Charles spent time studying tape of Forte and how he handles the dual role of runner/receiver. Although Charles is pretty advanced in those abilities, he found aspects of Forte’s game that he could copy.

“He’s very patient on screens coming out of the backfield,” Charles said. “He’s a very good route running and he looks the ball in. Those were the things that I learned from watching his tape.”

–The top of the Chiefs’ 2015 NFL Draft class has worked its way into the lineup on offense and defense through the season’s first four games. Cornerback Marcus Peters (first round) and center Mitch Morse (second) both began the season as starters. Now, third-round selection Chris Conley has joined them, stepping into the opening group to replace Albert Wilson, who has been battling a shoulder injury.

Conley’s first start was last Sunday against Cincinnati, where he was targeted seven times and caught two passes for 53 yards. One of those catches went for 44 yards as Conley showed off his deceptive speed as he ran away from the Bengals secondary.

“I thought he did some good things and the one thing with Chris that you’re guaranteed is that he will go 100 miles per hour on every play,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said.

A training camp knee injury slowed Conley’s development, but there appears to be no question that he’s returned to physical form with his 6-3, 205-pound frame that was the talk of the NFL Combine back in February when he posted outstanding numbers during the workout.

In the season’s first two games he had a total of six offensive plays. In the last two games, he’s had 103 snaps, including 68 against the Bengals.

“He’s a smart kid,” Reid said. “Normally the assignments are going to be right and if there is a mistake, he’s going to work that thing out and get it right. I can handle working with that.”

NOTES: Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has played three games against the Bears, catching 14 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. This time against the Bears, Maclin seeks his third straight game with 100-plus receiving yards, something he did not do over his seven-year career with Philadelphia. … QB Alex Smith holds a 1-1 record as a starting quarterback against Chicago. In those two games, Smith completed 30-of-48 passes for 253 yards, one touchdown pass and three interceptions. He also ran seven times for 25 yards. … Running back Jamaal Charles in his 99-game career has 53 times when he finished the game with 100 yards or more of offense as a runner/receiver. Game No. 53 came last Sunday against Cincinnati, when he had 145 yards. Among active players that will be the third-most 100-plus games in a running back’s first 100 games, behind only Adrian Peterson (61) and Chicago’s Matt Forte (56). … Inside linebacker Josh Mauga (groin) did not participate in the Chiefs practice on Wednesday because of a strained groin muscle in his right leg that he suffered last Sunday against Cincinnati. Mauga ranks among the team’s top 10 tacklers after four games with 13 total stops. … Wide receiver Albert Wilson (shoulder) was a limited participant in Chiefs practice on Wednesday due to the sprained shoulder injury that kept him out of last Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. Head coach Andy Reid had no word on Wilson’s prognosis for returning to the field. … Tight end Travis Kelce (groin/thumb) participated fully in the Chiefs practice on Wednesday. Kelce picked up the injuries in last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati. There’s no indication that Kelce will miss the game against Chicago.


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