KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Michael Adams caused a big chunk of Kansas City to catch its breath Friday night.
Jamaal Charles, on his first carry since ACL surgery on his left knee last September, took a solid shot from the Arizona cornerback right where the scar is. But he jumped up and hustled back to the huddle, helping KC score touchdowns on its first two possessions en route to a 27-17 victory over the Cardinals in a very satisfying preseason opener.
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"That was a relief," said coach Romero Crennel. "For him to take that hit, I think that helped clear his mind about where he is with that injury. Until you get hit on it, you just never know. You're always wondering about it. Now he's been hit in a game and I think that will help him going forward."
Charles, the NFL's second-leading rusher in 2010, had 12 yards on three carries and caught one pass for 11 yards. Two other key starters who also sat out last season with ACL surgery -- safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki -- also played with no apparent problem, lifting the spirits of coaches and fans alike.
Charles insisted he "wasn't even paying attention" to the hit to the left knee. "It was good just to be on the field again and running the ball again in a real live game," he said. "It was great to be out there with my teammates."
Did he feel like the old Jamaal, the one whose 6.4 yards per carry in 2010 was just under Jim Brown's NFL record?
"I don't know. You tell me," he said with a grin. "I feel fresh. My body feels real good. I feel ready to go."
Matt Cassel found Peyton Hillis on a 12-yard scoring strike to cap the first possession, marking the second straight game the defense for Arizona yielded a touchdown on the opening drive.
Little was decided in the battle between John Skelton and Kevin Kolb for Arizona's starting quarterback job. But William Powell, a second-year running back from Kansas State, had a big game, rushing for 92 yards on nine carries. He scored the Cardinals' first touchdown on a 2-yard run on fourth down after exploding for 67 yards a moment before.
Skelton started and was 3 for 6 for 35 yards and one interception. Kolb, who started in the Hall of Fame Game against New Orleans, came off the bench and was one for 5 for 21 yards.
"I thought John looked comfortable," Whisenhunt said. "He made a mistake when he called a run the wrong way. But he made some good, accurate throws. Kevin looked good early, but we continue to have protection issues when he's in there. I thought they did OK."
Cassel, who missed most of the second half last season with a hand injury, looked sharp. He connected with a wide-open Hillis to finish a 12-play, 72-yard march for a 7-0 lead the first time the Chiefs had the ball and was 5 for 6 for 67 yards. He rifled a 29-yard completion to Dexter McCluster to set up Draughn's TD run with 4:13 left in the first quarter.
Hillis, an offseason free-agent signing, had 41 yards on four carries. He broke through a big hole on the right side of the line for a 28-yard run in the second TD drive, helping the first-teamers to touchdowns on the only two possessions they played.
The replacement officials were not shy about throwing flags, calling six penalties on each team for a total of 149 yards.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press