If a player can make a NFL squad through a single moment, perhaps Jehu Chesson did just that in the second quarter of Thursday’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
Fading back to haul in a punt that traveled 61 yards, Chesson gathered the ball at the 24 near the Titans sideline and started angling right.
He didn’t stop until reaching the end zone for the Chiefs’ first touchdown of the game.
“I made one move and up the field,” Chesson said. “You see it, you’ve got to hit it.”
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For the second straight week, the Chiefs hit on a return touchdown. Last week at Seattle, De’Anthony Thomas brought back a kickoff 95 yards.
This time it was Chesson, the rookie from Michigan and fourth-round selection who hadn’t authored much of a stats line in the first three preseason games.
Chesson had three receptions for 34 yards and three kickoff returns. He hadn’t attempted a punt return. Among wide receivers battling to make the squad the numbers didn’t stand out.
But the Chiefs also were interested in Chesson’s special teams’ ability when they selected him, as a return man and in coverage.
“I don’t know why some people think it’s less important than offense or defense because any chance to have to impact the game, you should,” Chesson said.
The Chiefs have a superb punt-return specialist in Tyreek Hill, who joined the other starters on the sideline for the final preseason game. This gave talent like Chesson a final audition, and midway through the second quarter he took advantage.
Brett Kern’s punt sailed deep, allowing the Chiefs to set up the return to the right. Chesson ran past the gunner as he veered to the middle of the field. Justin March-Lillard threw a wipe out block. Seantavius Jones held up his man. Tanoh Kpassagnon and Marcus Kemp threw key blocks allowing Chesson to cover the final few yards.
Special-teams coach Dave Toub had to be thrilled. Not as much as Chesson, who could be a borderline call to make the team. The starting wide receivers — Hill, Chris Conely and Albert Wilson — appear set. Thomas is the fourth.
There looks to be a circle of candidates after that with Demarcus Robinson, Jones, Kemp and Chesson as the leaders. Assuming the Chiefs keep six wide receivers, some will make it and others likely are headed to the practice squad. On the depth chart, Chesson is listed on the fourth team.
But his special-teams skill could make the difference, as it did for the Chiefs on Thursday.
“Nobody is exempt,” Chesson said of the roster reduction process from 90 to 53 which must be completed by Saturday at 3 p.m. “My thing is, open mind, open heart … I’m just here to play ball.
“The decision isn’t up to me. All I can do is put my resume together and whatever happens happens.”