(ST. JOSEPH, Mo., AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs welcomed back star running back Jamaal Charles on Thursday for the first day of coach Andy Reid’s second training camp at Missouri Western.
Charles, who signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday, entered the practice field Thursday to thunderous cheers from fans in attendance.
He didn’t disappoint, catching a screen pass from Alex Smith before running up the left sideline for a touchdown on one of the first plays during 11-on-11 drills.
“It feels good,” Charles said about the extension. “I just like to thank God first of all. I’d like to thank the Hunt family, my teammates and the fans, everybody that supported me. I didn’t want to hold out. That’s not my personality. I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to get the deal done.”
The two-time All Pro running back avoided a holdout.
“I thought he’d be here,” Reid said. “I figured it would all work out. They were communicating. I would say if they’re talking that’s a good thing. I didn’t really anticipate him not being here. I knew he wanted to be here and do this thing.”
Meanwhile, the team’s remaining priorities are addressing Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston, with both Pro Bowl players entering the final year of their contracts.
The Chiefs have $9.46 million in cap space to work with.
Former NFL agent and salary cap/contracts expert Joel Corry believes the Chiefs can fit Smith and Houston within the cap even with Charles’ extension.
“It’s going to be tighter,” Corry said in a telephone interview, “but there’s still ways to do it. Alex Smith can be self-contained if you wanted to, you can get a deal done with him. That’s possible.
“I kind of think Justin Houston, assuming he’s going to get a Tamba Hali-type deal, he has a $15 million signing bonus, and you need $3 million of cap room to give Houston a five-year extension in the Tamba Hali range.”
Hali signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract with $35 million guaranteed in 2011.
For his part, Smith said he’s happy to see Charles get an extension. While the Chiefs and Smith’s representative have negotiated on a contract extension, nothing has been finalized between the parties.
The 30-year-old Smith often fielded questions throughout the offseason over the status of negotiations, but he made it clear it’s time to focus on football.
“This is no longer the time to be talking and speculating,” Smith said. “Certainly the people talking — my agent and the front office — I told them the same thing. When something gets finalized, come let me know. Until then, don’t bother me and that’s the way I want it.”
Houston, who didn’t attend voluntary organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, reported on time for training camp and participated in the Thursday practice.
And like Smith, the 25-year-old Houston shifted attention to the playing field.
“I’m not worrying about that contract,” Houston said. “When it’s time for that to happen, it’s going to happen. My main focus is football. If you’re worrying about that contract, it will slow you down from the things you have to do on the field. I don’t want that to happen.”
Reid said he was pleased to have Houston in training camp after not having him for the offseason workout program.
“He’s a big part of this team,” Reid said. “I’m glad he’s here and he’s working hard.”
NOTES: Reid said tight end Sean McGrath, who was not present on the practice field, is working through personal matters “We’ll see on that,” Reid said when asked if McGrath is considering retirement. “He’s contemplated some things and going through some things” The Chiefs placed offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins (back) and defensive back Sanders Commings (foot) on the non-football injury list The Chiefs signed offensive tackle Ryan Harris and linebacker Josh Mauga To make room on the roster, the Chiefs waived linebacker DeRon Furr and placed fullback James Baker as reserve/did not report list.