Don’t expect the Chiefs to stop giving the ball to star rookie running back Kareem Hunt anytime soon.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid was asked Monday if the Chiefs have to be careful with how much they work they give the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Hunt — who leads in the NFL in rushing and is on pace to record 299 touches this season. Reid said that’s not a consideration.
“No, I think we’re OK with how we’re using him,” Reid said. “We’re still getting Charcandrick (West) in there for reps, and if the other (Akeem) Hunt comes along here we’ll have a third back that we’re comfortable with. I think we’re OK right now … I’ve used No. 10 (Tyreek Hill) in the backfield there where there’s pass routes, and he had a carry yesterday. I think we’re all right.”
Reid said it’s possible — even likely — for rookie running backs to hit a wall. But not all of them do.
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“I’ve seen enough make it through and I’ve seen some that hit a wall,” Reid said. “If I didn’t (give him the ball) then you’d ask me if I needed to give him the ball more. I went through that with Jamaal (Charles), at first it was too much, then not enough, it goes back and forth. I just go off of the feel I have and the experience, we’ll be all right there.”
Hunt, who became the first NFL player to record a touchdown of 50 yards or more in each of his first three games, has rushed 47 times for 401 yards — an absurd 8.5-yard average — and four touchdowns. He’s also caught nine passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns and is on pace to record the most touches of any Chiefs running back since Jamaal Charles racked up 329 in 2013.
Reid has been doing this long enough to know that while you can’t take a 3-0 start for granted, you can’t get too complacent, either.
Which is why his team’s issues with penalties — they’ve piled up 33, the most in the league, for a league-high 301 yards — have caught his attention.
And while he does encourage his players to be themselves — which has led to two taunting penalties and one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — Reid said that doesn’t explain the other 30 flags.
“Some of these were flat-out holding, and they were legitimate calls,” Reid said. “Other ones were, eh. And the ones that you get for the swagger part, you just have to control yourself. That’s the bottom line.
“You love the energy that these guys bring and the fact that they’re loving playing the game. There’s no question that the guys are all into the game, so that’s the fine line you’re talking about there. But certain situations you’ve got to be able to control yourself on those. But some of those calls we have to fix with technique and fundamentals.”
Reid said Parker Ehinger is not quite ready to play, even though the second-year left guard said last week he feels as good as he did before his season-ending knee injury last October.
“We’ll see how he does this week,” Reid said. “I thought last week he was a little ways away, but we’ll see.”
▪ It seems inside linebacker Reggie Ragland, who also had a season-ending knee injury last year, is closer to contributing on his side of the ball than Ehinger.
“He worked in a little bit last week at practice and we’re just kind of bringing him along slowly,” Reid said. “He was hurt there a little bit at the beginning, he was coming off an injury so we just want to make sure he’s OK. But he got a little bit more work here last week at practice.”