ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Even before the Chiefs' Week 1 game against the Tennessee Titans got out of hand in the second half, running back Jamaal Charles was not seeing the ball.
At halftime, the Chiefs trailed 10-3, but Charles had just seven touches: five carries and two receptions. Quarterback Alex Smith had one more carry than Charles.
Charles finished with seven carries and 11 touches, his lowest totals since Oct. 28, 2012. Since then, he had averaged 21.25 touches for 124.96 yards per game -- and 5.88 yards every time he touched the football.
"When you have probably the best player on your team, probably -- if not the best running back in the league -- when you see him only get seven (carries), it puts up a lot of red flags," said Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.
Those red flags are in both locker rooms.
"Certainly in the situation we all would've liked to have gotten the ball to him a little bit more," said Smith. "One of the things I think that during the game you're just not thinking about and then all of a sudden after you look at the summary of the game and it hits you."
That is one of many changes the Broncos can expect from the Chiefs as they put a disastrous Week 1 loss behind them.
"We definitely know they're going to have a heavy gameplan for Jamaal," said Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib.
"And when you've got a top-tier guy getting seven (carries), something's not right," added Knighton. "So he'll definitely get a lot of touches this week."
But how those touches are dispersed matters, as well. Charles isn't just one of the league's best runners, but arguably its most dangerous receiver out of the backfield, as evidenced by his four-touchdown performance last year at Oakland, when he became the only running back in NFL history to catch four touchdown passes in a single game.
That threat transforms the Chiefs' passing game. And even if Charles isn't breaking away from linebackers in coverage, he's opening up the offense horizontally and providing a safe option for Smith. That helps create more opportunities for the nine-year veteran quarterback, who is in his second Kansas City season.
"He can get streaky hot," said Broncos Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio. "He's played well against us last couple of times out. He's got good feet. He's athletic and can extend the downs."
Dwayne Bowe is back at wide receiver after a suspension, which should help Smith, and could arouse a Chiefs passing game that gasped and wheezed its way to just 178 yards on 39 pass plays -- three of which ended in interceptions -- last week.
But as has been the case the last two years, the Chiefs' offense will go as far as Charles can take it.