Chiefs running backs coach: "We're throwing everything at" rookie Kareem Hunt
In late February, the Chiefs cut All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles after nine seasons.
Entering the 2017 NFL Draft, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and NFL journeyman C.J. Spiller comprised the Chiefs’ running back depth chart.
With the 22nd pick in the third round, the Chiefs bolstered their running back depth by selecting Toledo running back Kareem Hunt.
In four seasons, Hunt tallied 4,945 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns. Additionally, he caught 73 passes for one touchdown and 555 receiving yards.
“We saw a big physical kid, who is a good, smart football player who does a great job when the ball is in his hands,” Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy said. “He is a good kid and he has been working his tail off and he’s a part of the group now.”
Bieniemy praised the work ethic and respect Hunt, 5 feet 11 and 216 pounds, has displayed during his short tenure with the Chiefs.
“I’ve seen a kid who has a great deal of respect for his peers, He is watching and learning what 32 (Ware), 35 (West) and 42 (Anthony Sherman) are doing,” Bieniemy said. “And with C.J. Spiller in the mix, he is able to learn from him as well.
“He has been taking a lot of pride in working hard and he just wants to make sure that he’s detailing his work and getting it right.”
Making an impact out of the backfield during his rookie season may be difficult for Hunt, as Ware and West will likely carry the load in 2017.
In 2016, Ware and West combined for 302 rushing attempts, 1,214 rushing yards and four touchdowns. They added four receiving touchdowns and 635 receiving yards on 61 receptions.
One area where Hunt could make an impact in 2017 is as a receiver, where Bieniemy was impressed by his ability at Toledo.
“I also saw a kid who can do a lot of good things out of the backfield and did a great job of catching the football,” Bieniemy said.
Bieniemy said Hunt is up for the challenge.
“First of all, he has to continue to grow, as there is still a developmental stage because we’re throwing everything at him,” Bieniemy said.
In 2016, just two rookie running backs in the NFL totaled more than 1,000 rushing yards, and only four finished with more than 500. Hunt won’t be expected to carry the load during his first year. Rather, Bieniemy and the rest of the coaching staff just want Hunt to continue working hard.
“When it’s all said and done, we just want him to continue the process,” Bieniemy said. “And everything else will sort itself out from there.”