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Knile Davis likely to get chance to return kicks Sunday against Jacksonville

Updated: 2013-09-08T22:31:38Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub plans on working rookie running back Knile Davis into the kick-return mix against Jacksonville this week.

“We don’t know if he’s going to get the first one or the second one, but we’re definitely going to work him in there,” Toub said.

It might seem like common sense, considering Davis, a 5-foot-10, 227-pound Arkansas product with 4.37 speed, has returned kicks back for 109 yards and 79 yards this preseason.

But it appears Davis, who fumbled seven times in 112 carries at Arkansas last season, is still earning Toub’s trust when it comes to securing the football.

“A 109 (yard return) helps, there’s no question,” Toub said. “The guy, when he has the ball in his hand, is pretty dynamic. We just have to get him in situations where he’s relaxed. Maybe (when) he’s into the tempo of the game, we throw him in there and then we go with him.”

When Davis isn’t out there, Toub can also turn to receiver Dexter McCluster and safety Quintin Demps, who have each shown some big-play ability as well. McCluster has a punt-return touchdown from 2010 on his resume, while Demps returned a kick 104 yards for a touchdown against the 49ers this preseason.

Still, it’s clear Toub is interested on keeping the explosive Davis in the mix, as long as he continues to make strides when it comes to holding onto the ball.

“He’s got to feel confident about his abilities,” Toub said. “We feel confident with him after the catch. He’s going to get his opportunities for sure.”

Fisher pushes through

Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher dealt with shoulder and thumb issues throughout camp, but he apparently is doing his best to power through them as he prepares to make the first regular-season start of his career Sunday at Jacksonville.

“You’re never 100 percent in this league, even when the preseason starts,” Fisher said Thursday when asked how close he was to 100 percent. “You just try to give the best you’ve got to get the job done.”

Fisher, a rookie from Central Michigan and the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, may need to reach deep against the Jaguars. He is expected to log some snaps against defensive end Jason Babin, who had seven sacks last season and is being relied on to generate pressure from the “Leo” position, a staple of new Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley’s defense.

“Babin is a pretty crafty guy,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “Fish will have his work cut out for him.”

Former MU quarterbacks square off

There remains a meaningful connection between Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel and Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who are No. 1 and No. 3 respectively on Missouri’s career total offense list.

Gabbert served as Daniel’s understudy in 2008 and replaced him in 2009 and 2010 before leaving MU after his junior year and being selected by Jacksonville at No. 10 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Daniel had a text exchange earlier this week with Gabbert, asking “from a personal standpoint” how his injured thumb is.

“He’s worked hard. … He’s really matured since he got in the league,” Daniel said. “Obviously he’s dealing with a thumb issue right now, but we expect him to play and we expect him to play good.”

Their roles essentially have been reversed in the NFL.

Gabbert has started 24 games and completed 372 of 691 passes for 3,876 yards and 21 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.

Daniel has thrown nine regular-season passes, completing seven for 55 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He begins his Chiefs career in the on-call role he’s had since his first NFL season with the Saints in 2009.

“Every game, for my entire career, I’ve been preparing to be the starter. You never know. You’re one play away,” Daniel said. “So that’s the mindset I took when I was with the Saints, backing up Drew (Brees), and that’s the mindset I’m going to take now.”

Injury report

Safety Husain Abdullah had a sore left foot and did not practice Thursday. Linebacker Nico Johnson (ankle) and guard Jon Asamoah (calf) also did not practice. Defensive end Allen Bailey remains excused for a noninjury-related personal reason.

Former Chief dies

Former Chiefs tight end Willie Frazier tied Thursday at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Frazier, a three-time Pro Bowler who played for the Chiefs during 1971-1972, also spent five years with the San Diego Chargers and four with the Houston Oilers. Frazier, an Arkansas Pine-Bluff product, caught 209 passes for 3,088 yards and 36 touchdown passes in his 11-year NFL career.

The Star’s Vahe Gregorian also contributed to this report. To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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