By John Reid, Florida Times-Union
Jamaal Charles waited patiently for seven months seeking the right opportunity to return to the NFL.
He didn’t want to play for just any team after sputtering through a diminished role last season with the Denver Broncos.
Charles, 31, held out to join a championship caliber team, capable of reaching the Super Bowl this season.
Charles said he found what he was seeking on Tuesday when he signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars.
“I was happy when they called,” said Charles, a four-time Pro Bowl running back who spent his first nine seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and remains their career-leading rusher with 7,260 yards. “I want to win a Super Bowl and that’s why I kept my options open. They have a good chance to do that so I came here so I could contribute.”
Asked what he hopes to bring to the Jaguars, Charles said “big plays.”
“When they see me, I want to give a boost, get them hyped, get them excited that I am here and be a spark to the fire that is going to make a flame,“Charles said.
Charles, a change of pace back, was signed because the Jaguars have been ravaged by injuries at running back. Starting tailback Leonard Fournette will miss his fourth game of the season because of a right hamstring injury.
Backup running back Corey Grant suffered a season-ending foot injury last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
T.J. Yeldon will remain as the Jaguars starting tailback until Fournette returns.
Charles will see action Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys as the team’s top backup tailback. Rookie tailback Dave Williams, whom the Jaguars signed off the Broncos practice squad on Tuesday, is expected to make his debut Sunday in a backup role. He was the Broncos’ seventh-round pick in April but was unable to land a spot on the active roster during the regular season.
“T.J. [Yeldon] will be a guy that will carry the load for us,” coach Doug Marrone said. “Jamaal, he looked good. He looked in shape, he looked like he was ready to go. We’ll see him out on the practice field today. Dave, the same thing. A good downhill runner, he had 10 catches in the preseason. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s a big kid. We need some help, so we brought those guys in here. We’ll just put them to work.”
Charles said he had a free agent workout with the New Orleans Saints in May and also met with the Washington Redskins.
Still, he went unsigned through the first five weeks of the regular season.
Though he wasn’t on an NFL roster, he trained like he was.
“It would be frustrating sitting at home and you aren’t ready for life after football, but so many people prepared me for life after football and good thing I made some money and I was able to keep my mind right and not lose it,” Charles said. “I have people in my corner, good advisors, and I was able to keep my mind strong, stay healthy and look at a lot of football. That is why I am in shape. I have to stay in shape because you never know who is going to call. A lot of people pushed me — ‘Jamaal keep going, you are going to get the call.’ I had lots of great support behind me.”
With the Chiefs, Charles suffered a torn left ACL in 2011 and sustained the same injury to his right ACL in 2015. He had a second surgical procedure performed on his knee in 2016.
In 10 seasons, Charles has rushed for 7,556 yards scored 44 touchdowns. Last season with the Broncos, Charles was unable to meet expectations. He finished the season with 69 carries for 296 yards but was inactive for the Broncos final two games despite being healthy.
“It’s just been years, learning experiences,” Charles said. “You learn from the things you go through and you keep on moving because I can’t look back and get those years back. I feel good. Last year, I was trying to get back to feeling good and get back healthy again. Now, I have been out for a while, but I have also had time to get my body right and get stronger and get healthy. I feel great. I’m trying to win. That is what I am trying to get done down here.”