Jamaal Charles has several hurdles to overcome to leap into a starring role in Denver.
Issue No. 1 is staying healthy after playing in just eight games the past two seasons. Issue No. 2 is beating out C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker in what looks destined to be backfield by committee.
If it comes to competing, Charles isn't worried.
"Why not think I'm going to be the man? You think I'm just going to come up here and [pauses]? No, that's never been me in my whole life," he said, via the Denver Post's Nicki Jhabvala. "My whole life, I'm always going to feel like I'm going to be the man. That's why I wanted to come here. If I'm not going to be the man, why am I here? I should be at home and sitting on the couch."
Charles currently sits as the NFL's all-time leader in yards per carry among running backs, at 5.5 YPC in nine seasons. In 71 carries in 2015, he earned 5.1 yards per tote before tearing his ACL. He never looked right in three games last season, getting just 12 carries for 3.3 yards per rush. He's out to prove he can still be the running back that owned a streak of three straight 1,000-plus yard seasons before injuries.
"It is important to me," he said. "When I left Kansas City, I was still at the top. It was just the injury. You can't really control injuries. You just wish for good luck."
Charles continues to work on the side during OTAs and is gearing up to earn a job during training camp later this summer.
"I want to come in and compete. Make everybody better, make the running backs better, turn Booker into a Pro Bowl running back when I leave here and turn C.J. into an All-Pro," Charles said. "I want to come here and bring the energy, the experience. I want to come here to show people what I can do. I don't want to just show up and people are like, 'Oh, Jamaal's here.' No, I want to show up and compete with my teammates and show them that I am good and I'm still at the top of my career."
When last we saw Charles healthy in Kansas City, he was one of the top dual-threat running backs in the NFL. If he can get back to form, he'll be a steal for Denver. If injuries continue to haunt the 30-year-old back, he could be looking for another team to give him a shot this fall.