The Chiefs set an NFL record for kickoff return average this season.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
They returned four kids for 125 yards in Sunday’s loss at San Diego, pushing the season total to 1,316 yards in 44 returns, a record 29.9-yard average.
The previous mark was held by the 1972 Chicago Bears, who averaged 29.4 yards per return.
“I’m really not into the year stats, but you’re breaking an NFL record like we did … I think that’s worthy of a note,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Reid praised special teams coordinator Dave Toub and assistant Kevin O’Dea.
Dexter McCluster returned one punt for 32 yards, giving him 58 punt returns for 686 yards (11.8 average) for the season.
His 58 punt returns tied J.T. Smith’s franchise record for most punt returns in a season set in 1979, and McCluster’s 686 return yardage broke the team record of 640 set by Tamarick Vanover in 1999.
McCluster, a 2013 Pro Bowl selection, led the NFL in both punt returns and punt return yards.
The encouraging play of the reserves in Sunday’s loss can only help going forward, Reid said.
“It gives you the confidence to increase their playing time,” said Reid, who noted running back Knile Davis and wide receiver Junior Hemingway were already on an upward trajectory.
“Certain guys have had a little bit more time in there as the season has gone on,” Reid said. “You continue to (perform) and it won’t hurt their cause getting in the game.”
Chiefs’ front-liners got a chance to heal by sitting out the Chargers game and appear on the road to recovery in time for Saturday’s playoff game against the Colts.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who left the Dec. 22 game against the Colts with a concussion after taking a shot to the head, is “making progress,” Reid said. “He’ll probably work out (Tuesday).”
The swelling has been reduced in linebacker Tamba Hali’s knee. “Inflammation of his knee has gone down,” Reid said. “We’ll just see how his does.”
Reid said linebacker James-Michael Johnson is day-to-day with an ankle sprain suffered Sunday and that safety Sean Smith suffered a minor knee sprain against the Chargers.
| Randy Covitz contributed to this report