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Sunday September 18th, 2011

Jamaal Charles could be lost for the year with a torn ACL. (AP)

The already banged-up Chiefs may have suffered a devastating blow Sunday in Detroit, as Jamaal Charles reportedly tore his ACL, an injury that would cost him the remainder of the season.

Charles took a long stride as he tried to stretch for a first down at the sideline and his knee appeared to buckle slightly as he came down. He then tumbled into Detroit's mascot and immediately grabbed for his knee.

Kansas City lost star safety Eric Berry to a torn ACL during a Week 1 loss to Buffalo. That's after tight end Tony Moeaki suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the final preseason game. Rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin also has missed the Chiefs' first two games with an injured wrist.

Charles rushed for nearly 1,500 yards last season and added 468 receiving yards.

Can it get any worse for the Chiefs? They scored just seven in that opening-week loss, then mustered only a field goal Sunday. Without Charles, the Chiefs' run game turned over to veteran Thomas Jones against Detroit -- he finished with 40 yards on 12 carries. Versatile Dexter McCluster, Jackie Battle and fullback Le'Ron McClain also toted the rock at times, with McCluster accumulating a team-best 51 yards.

A combo of Jones and McCluster figures to be the Chiefs' plan going forward, though McClain asked for more carries in Baltimore and can pound between the tackles.

The bigger challenge for Kansas City will be maintaining any level of hope that this season will turn around. The Chiefs have now been blown out by the Bills and Lions back to back and have lost Charles and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in the process.

Kansas City visits San Diego next week in what might be a make-or-break game. Another half-hearted effort would leave the Chiefs not only injury-depleted but facing a big early deficit in the AFC West -- a combination that could turn their attention to 2012 much sooner than they anticipated, given last season's division crown.

Taking aside the impact Charles' injury has on the Chiefs, it's just tough to see a player of Charles' rising impact fall like he did. His second and third seasons in the league were increasingly impressive, and he seemed to be on the verge of becoming one of the NFL's elite running backs. If the ACL injury diagnosis is true, it obviously would be a major setback for both Charles and the Chiefs.

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