Charcandrick West returned to a familiar role in the Chiefs’ 37-27 victory over the Chargers on Sunday.
West was the Chiefs’ primary ball carrier, just as he was for most of the final 10 games of last season after Jamaal Charles was lost for the season because of a torn ACL.
Like last season, West produced on Sunday in the AFC West Division-clinching victory. He rushed 16 times for 58 yards. The attempts were a season high.
But his biggest contributions came through the air. West was targeted five times, caught all five passes and turned two of them into touchdowns.
The first touchdown, a 4-yard reception on an Alex Smith rollout, gave the Chiefs a 17-10 lead in the second quarter.
The only thing that changed from the first to the second TD was the distance. The third-quarter touchdown from 2 yards out restored a two-score lead at 27-17.
Plays so nice, the Chiefs called West’s number twice.
“Great play calls,” West said. “All I had to do was catch the ball and walk into the end zone. It was the exact same play.”
West made it work because he’s experienced, and in the Andy Reid offense, running backs are frequently targeted.
“He’s a young guy who has played a lot of football now,” Smith said. “He has such a good feel because he’s played a lot, not just in the run game but in the pass game too.”
Smith’s first completion of the day went to West, who turned a short reception into a 28-yard gain, his longest pass play of the year.
West was called to take on more Sunday when starter Spencer Ware was held out because of a rib injury suffered late in the Christmas-night victory over the Broncos.
West and Ware shared the position after Charles’ injury last season, with West getting the starts and seeing more action.
But the roles reversed this season. When Charles wasn’t ready to begin the season, Ware became the starter, with West spelling him.
Where West rushed for a team-best 634 yards last season, he finished this season with 293.
Ware, who signed a contract extension after last season on the same day as West, rushed for 403 yards last season. He topped Chiefs rushers with 921 in 2016.
Ware remained the starter when Charles returned for an abbreviated stay. Charles went back on the injured reserve list in November and had a follow-up procedure on his knee.
West doesn’t consider himself a starter, or a non-starter for that matter. When he learned that Ware was be on the inactive list on Sunday, West treated his preparation as he would any other game.
“Whoever is out there is going to do the job,” West said. “That’s how this whole team approaches things. Everybody is a starter on this team.”