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April 19, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) As the Chiefs prepare to begin their offseason program Monday, most of the attention right now is on the upcoming NFL draft, even among some of the players.

That includes Jamaal Charles.

General manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid have no intention of asking their Pro Bowl running back whom he'd take with their first-round pick, No. 18 overall.

But in an interview with The Associated Press, Charles made it clear he would like upgrades at offensive line.

''I definitely want them to address that,'' he said. ''I'm not a GM, so I can't do that job. But it was challenging last year playing with guys - some got hurt, some got suspended. So it was hard playing. I never knew how crucial it was to my career that I needed linemen.''

Dorsey has already made a few moves in free agency to shore up the front. He signed former Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Paul Fanaika to provide some depth, then traded a fifth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for former Pro Bowl offensive guard Ben Grubbs.

There are still plenty of questions, though.

Former first overall pick Eric Fisher struggled mightily in switching from right tackle to left tackle last season. Ryan Harris was merely serviceable on the right side. And their most dependable starter, center Rodney Hudson, signed a big deal with the Oakland Raiders in free agency, which means untested Eric Kush is penciled in as the starter there.

That's a big reason why several mock drafts have the Chiefs going with an offensive lineman in the first round later this month. Kansas City has 10 selections overall.

''I saw DeMarco Murray had a great line in Dallas,'' Charles said. ''Running backs, we're more important than wide receivers on the team. We might be looking for the best wide receiver, but you need a good running back. At the end of the day, a good running back touches the ball more.''

Charles actually touched the ball less last season than the previous year under Reid, but he still carried 206 times for 1,033 yards and caught 40 passes for another 291 yards.

If the offensive line was better, would a 2,000-yard season be possible?

''I definitely want that. I want to reach my goals,'' Charles said. ''I want to be in that club. But the only way to get there, is everyone in the same boat. We've got to do it with people that want to help me do it. We've got to do it with people who want to win.''

Offensive line isn't the only area where the Chiefs have been busy upgrading.

Dorsey made a splash early in the offseason by signing former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, then cutting Dwayne Bowe in a cost-saving move. While the Chiefs are still desperate for help at wide receiver, the move was praised by just about everyone.

Including the guy who loved watching Bowe block for him.

''I think it's definitely going to help us,'' Charles said. ''Dude can stretch the field, run routes. Looks like he's hungry. He's going to try to play to that level. When you get paid, you've got to play to the amount of money you get paid. If not, they're going to release you.

''I love my money,'' Charles added. ''That's why I try and stay consistent.''

The Chiefs begin the first phase of their offseason program on Monday, which means it will be the first time that linebacker Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito are expected back on the field.

Both players tore an Achilles tendon in last season's opener.

''I've been working out with DJ for a while now,'' said Charles, who like Johnson went to college at Texas. ''I feel like he's going to come back better.''

One player who almost certainly won't be at the practice facility is Eric Berry, the Chiefs' Pro Bowl safety. He was diagnosed with lymphoma last season is undergoing treatment in Atlanta.

''I talked to him one time, called him out of the blue just to see how he was,'' Charles said. ''He's up and energized.''

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