In their careers, Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller have been leading rushers for NFL teams.
That experience bodes well for the Chiefs’ running back situation as they shuffle the lineup in wake of Sunday’s news that starter Spencer Ware could be lost for the season because of a knee injury suffered in Friday’s preseason game at Seattle.
Rookie Kareem Hunt ascends to the starter’s role, and West and Spiller climb the depth chart.
“You’ve got guys that can go to any team in this league and be successful,” Spiller said.
West emerged as the Chiefs’ top rusher in 2015 after Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending knee injury in the fifth game. West started nine games and collected a season-high 110 rushing yards against the Steelers on his way to a team-best 634 yards.
West nursed an ankle injury in training camp but was healthy enough to rush for 113 yards in seven carries against non-starters in a preseason victory over the Bengals two weeks ago, and in the preseason has averaged 7.9 yards per attempt in 15 carries.
With the starters sitting in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium, West and Spiller figure to see plenty of action without a dropoff in expectations at the position.
“It’s football. Injuries are going to happen,” West said. “We’re out here running into each other, so it’s going to happen. Coaches and staff do a great job bringing in guys, so when situations like this happen, the next man is ready to go.”
Spiller led the Buffalo Bills in rushing in 2012 and 2013. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, when he rushed for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns. His 6 yards per carry was second only to Adrian Peterson in the NFL.
Spiller’s career started to decline after breaking a collarbone in 2014. He had been with three other teams before signing with the Chiefs in late February.
The idea was to add depth to a position that included Ware and West because one week later the team announced it had released Charles.
In April, the Chiefs traded up in the third round to nab Hunt from Toledo. Spiller sees part of his role as mentoring Hunt.
“That’s what I’m supposed to do,” Spiller said. “You’re supposed to make sure that guy that’s going out there with the first team knows what he’s doing, knows the expectations and also preparing yourself. … I’m going to share my knowledge with him.
“Every year I go into it, if I’m a starter or not a starter, preparing like I am starter. Because you just never know what can happen.”