SAN DIEGO -- By the time kickoff rolled around in the Kansas City Chiefs' 27-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, rookie running back Knile Davis could not wait to touch the football again.
He'd been stewing all week since he fumbled twice (and lost one) in the Chiefs' previous game. That performance not only reinforced his reputation as a fumbler -- he fumbled multiple times in college -- but also put the trust he'd been earning from the Chiefs' coaching staff to the test.
So when Davis -- who got the start for star Jamaal Charles, one of nearly every starter who got the day off -- touched the football the first time against the Chargers, he held it tightly and churned his legs as far as they would take him. He did this over and over again until he finished with 27 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns, all of which were career highs.
"Oh yeah, I was hungry this week," Davis said "All week in practice, I was holding the ball high and tight because I feel like I didn't get a chance to redeem myself this last game and that's not me. I'm not a fumbler. So I came out with that mind-set, with a chip on my shoulder, and I ran hard today."
Davis' per-carry average on Sunday was a below-average 3.0, but his final stat line is a tad misleading. Davis had 83 yards in 19 carries by the end of the third quarter but saw most of his running lanes behind the inexperienced offensive line -- which featured three first-time Chief starters -- disappear as the Chiefs went conservative and the Chargers keyed on the run.
"Man, I'm so proud of Knile," said left guard Rokevious Watkins, who made his first start as a Chief. "He ran hard today . . . we've gotta do a better job for him."
By the time the game was over, Davis seemed to understand why teammates have been lauding Charles' toughness all season. The load he shouldered Sunday was the biggest he's taken in a nearly three years; he hasn't carried the ball that many times in a game since his 30-carry, 152-yard performance against LSU on Nov. 30, 2010.
"Oh man, it was great (to get the work) . . . just a lot of respect to Jamaal Charles," Davis said. "I'm banged up; I know what he goes through every week. But it was good to get my legs under me and get in a rhythm for once."
Davis said he really started to feel the bumps and bruises after the game.
"You got the adrenaline pumping in the game, but as soon as it's over, you feel it," Davis said.
But again, Davis was just grateful for the opportunity. He was also appreciative of Chiefs coach Andy Reid and running-back coach Eric Bieniemy -- who has been riding him hard all season -- for giving him a chance against the Chargers after he gave the ball away in the Chiefs' 23-7 loss to the Colts on Dec. 22
"It's great," Davis said. "My running-back coach and coach Andy, they had a lot of confidence in me, and I didn't disappoint them."
Davis, however, knows there's room for improvement. The Chiefs lost, first of all, and when asked if Biemiemy had any words of encouragement after the game, Davis just smiled.
"He's never satisfied," Davis said. "We gotta be better, and I agree with him."
(c)2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services