Three years ago Byron Jones Jersey Elite
, a little-known and undersized running back out of Abilene Christian led the Kansas City Chiefs in rushing, filling in admirably for an injured Jamaal Charles.
These days, Charcandrick West finds himself fighting for a job.
That alone is a sign of just how much deeper and more talented the Chiefs’ stable of running backs is this season. Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing as a rookie, but there is a crush of ability and experience nipping at his heels.
”There’s a good number of backs here that we have,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said, ”and we’re very, very blessed and fortunate. We just want to watch these guys compete.”
These guys: West, who managed just 72 yards on 18 carries last season; Spencer Ware, who led the Chiefs in rushing two years ago before sustaining a season-ending injury in preseason; Kerwynn Williams, who started six games last season for Arizona; Damien Williams, who appeared in 58 games over the past four seasons in Miami; and Darrel Williams, perhaps the biggest dark horse of the bunch.
Williams backed up Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice the past few years at LSU, a big reason why he went undrafted this past April. But many scouts believe he has the talent to succeed, noting he averaged 5.7 yards a carry last season – better than Guice Jamal Adams Jets Jersey
, a second-round pick.
”I probably say this every year, but the talent pool has gotten deeper,” Bieniemy said. ”I look forward to it. Why? Because it brings out the best in each and every one of them.”
There are a multitude of reasons why the Chiefs have invested so heavily in the position.
For one thing, the value of running backs has swung back to the positive after many had written them off in the era of the pass-happy NFL. Offensive coordinators have started to utilize them in creative ways, employing them as pass-catchers and blockers along with running.
No wonder three running backs were selected in the first round of the draft, and four more in the second round, headlined by Saquon Barkley going to the Giants at No. 2 overall.
Then there’s the misfortune that has befallen Kansas City at the position.
Twice the franchise lost Charles to season-ending injuries in his prime, the first time resulting in Jackie Battle leading the team in rushing. Then, after Ware’s transition from fullback to running back led to a breakout season, he tore up his knee in last year’s preseason game against Seattle.
The Chiefs were fortunate that Hunt emerged as a bona fide star, but they nonetheless headed into the season with a relatively shallow backfield. West handled some spot duty, and Akeem Hunt and an aged C.J. Spiller saw action, but it was quarterback Alex Smith that was second on the team in rushing.
General manager Brett Veach hardly wants new quarterback Patrick Mahomes II to do likewise
”In my mind and obviously in Brett’s mind – because he’s the one who did this – you can’t have enough of those guys,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”We figured http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/jim-kelly-jersey
, listen, if we have a chance to get good players lets go ahead and better ourselves, let the competition be there and see what happens. I’m expecting Spencer to be back, but you never know, and you’ve got kids that can play.”
The depth has already paid off the first week of camp, giving Hunt a chance to rest a stiff hamstring Friday and Ware an opportunity to slowly get back into game shape.
”I’ve never shied away from competition,” Ware said. ”My ultimate goal is to make my team better and to get better as a player – to make myself more valuable for my team and let them be able to use me in any way they can.”
NOTES: Rookie FS Armani Watts was back on the field Saturday after tweaking his ankle. ”He needs reps now,” Reid said. ”If you’re going to make this team you have to show it.” … West took a shot to the head during the team’s first padded practice and was being evaluated by team doctors.
— Quarterback Sam Bradford was well aware of David Johnson even before signing with the Cardinals in the offseason.
Bradford was on the opposite sideline when Johnson rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns while trouncing Bradford’s Eagles in 2015.
A training camp with Johnson has only amplified Bradford’s appreciation.
“When I first got here, I think everyone tried to explain just how special he was and what he was able to do in the run game and the pass game, all the ways that he could be used,” Bradford said. “I’ve heard that before about some players, but then you actually see it and you see how smooth he is running routes. He looks like a receiver when he is split out wide. You just don’t see that from a guy that is as talented at running the ball as he is. I’m excited to play with David. I think he is extremely versatile, and hopefully we find a way to use him a lot.”
New coach Steve Wilks and new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy are expected to do exactly that, although it might not be evident in the Cardinals’ preseason opener against San Diego on Saturday.
Neither Bradford nor Johnson is likely to see much time http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/lesean-mccoy-jersey
, more to give the coaches time to evaluate the rest of the squad than to protect Bradford (knee) and Johnson (wrist) from contact.
Rookie Chase Edmonds, a fourth-round pick out of Fordham, is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart, and veteran D.J. Foster provides a run/pass threat in a running back corps that also includes T.J. Logan and Sherman Badie.
Johnson, who was second in the NFL with 2,118 yards in total offense in 2016, was injured in the 2017 season opener against Detroit and hasn’t played since. He understands the preseason plan.
“Even though I was hurt last year, I know how the NFL works,” Johnson said. “I’ve played long enough to know the speed of NFL games and I know what I am supposed to do.”
Johnson’s focus in training camp, which he opted to attend after sitting out the mandatory offseason workouts in June because of a contract dispute, is to get in synch with McCoy’s playbook.
The new offense is more oriented to the short pass, while former coach Bruce Arians believed in the home run ball.
“It’s been great,” Johnson said. “Mike McCoy really knows how to bring out everyone’s strengths. He knows how to structure the offense to where it brings out what everyone is good at. I feel like it is going to be a great offense.”
Johnson’s emphasis now is on learning the nuances of the new running game, although it is safe to assume his pass-catching ability will be utilized as it was in 2016 Mitchell Trubisky Jersey Youth
, when he had 1,239 rushing yards on 293 carries and 879 receiving yards on 80 receptions.
While Johnson will be the feature back, the Cardinals will use other packages that could involve Edmonds, Foster and others depending on the opponent’s defensive schemes, Wilks said.
“All those guys are being very competitive,” Wilks said. “There are going to be some tough decisions. That’s what you want as a coach. We want those guys to make us make those tough decisions with the things they are doing.”
NOTES: The Cardinals placed center A.Q. Shipley on injured reserve Tuesday, three days after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in a team scrimmage. Mason Cole, a third-round draft choice from Michigan, is listed as the starting center, but coach Wilks said, “I’m not going to try to put all the pressure on him. It’s going to be by committee. Those guys have to do a great job communicating, starting with the guards and out to the tackles and making sure they put us in the right position from a (pass) protection standpoint.”