Chiefs coach Andy Reid loves tight ends, loves them so much he lined up four on the same snap once in last weekend’s victory over the Jets.
“If we’re going to have these guys, we might as well use them,” Reid said.
So he did, and the group produced. Not just Travis Kelce, who for the first time this season led the Chiefs in receptions for a game and scored the team’s only offensive touchdown on a 12-yard reception from Alex Smith on the second possession.
Demetrius Harris also found the end zone, on special teams.
His 27-yard return of a fumble on a Jets’ kickoff return in the second quarter was the second touchdown of Harris’ NFL career. He caught a 15-yard scoring pass from Smith in last year’s regular-season finale against the Raiders.
On Sunday, Harris took his spot on the kickoff coverage team on the far left, and Cairo Santos’ kick was fielded by Jalin Marshall at the 4.
Harris likely wasn’t going to be part of the tackle, but he was close enough to Marshall that when Anthony Sherman and Dezman Moses combined for the tackle and Sherman popped the ball loose, Harris was standing in exactly the right spot, as if he was a running back taking a pitch.
“I was running toward the ball, and I’m trying to get the tackle and I’m trying to get the ball because we knew coming in that the returner was iffy holding on to the ball,” Harris said.
“It fell in my hands.”
The play took the sting out of the Chiefs settling for a field goal after reaching the Jets’ 3 on the previous possession.
It also contributed to one of Harris’ best days in his three-year playing career. In addition to the touchdown, Harris matched career bests with two receptions and three targets.
For the season, Harris has four receptions on seven targets, second most among tight ends behind Kelce. Ross Travis has a pair of catches and James O’Shaughnessy has none.
The production continues an upward track for Harris, selected as an undrafted free agent in 2013 from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder played basketball.
Harris spent the first season on the practice squad and appeared in eight games with three receptions as a rookie in 2014. The season was cut short when Harris injured his foot during a non-contact drill in pregame warmups, and complications with the injury kept him out of the following organized team activities and training camp.
Harris stayed in shape and did “mental reps” watching the workouts. He appeared in all 16 regular-season and both playoff games last season, providing one of the key blocks that sprang Knile Davis loose for a 106-yard kickoff return to open the Texans game, and logging a 10-yard reception against the Patriots.
Bigger things appear in store for Harris this season. He played 31 of 63 offensive snaps against the Jets, the most since last year’s victory in Denver in the 10th week.
And he likes the company out there, playing with the entire tight end crew. It only happened for one play, but Harris believes it might be used more often. The Chiefs visit Pittsburgh for a 7:30 p.m. game on Sunday.
“We always say, dominate,” Harris said. “That’s the one thing in our heads, to dominate every play. There can’t be a better tight end group than this.”