Knile Davis took the handoff on a play designed to bull forward. But the Packers cut it off. Davis bounced outside and raced defenders to the pylon.
Davis won, scoring the Chiefs’ first touchdown in their 17-7 victory in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Arrowhead Stadium.
“They had it blocked off,” Davis said. “I saw space on the edge and I just took it home and got a score.”
Davis, who earned his way onto an NFL roster as a power back, showed his decision-making and burst, qualities Chiefs fans have seen before on the occasions when he was the team’s featured back.
But that hasn’t been often. A fourth-year pro from Arkansas, Davis has made two career starts and neither one occurred last year after Jamaal Charles was lost for the season because of a knee injury.
For that task, the Chiefs went with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. Davis, who averaged 100 rushing attempts and scored a total of 10 touchdowns in his first two seasons, got 28 attempts and one touchdown last year, making it natural to wonder about his future with the Chiefs.
With the roster trimmed to 53 by Saturday, will the Chiefs keep four running backs — and if not, will Davis be the odd man out?
Davis doesn’t know. His objective Thursday was simple.
“I just wanted to have a clean game,” Davis said. “I wanted to do everything right, hit my holes, catch the ball, just fine tune. I’ve been in the league going on four years. I pretty much know what to expect. So this was a fine-tuning game for me.”
The Chiefs may have indicated a pecking order Thursday. Charles, the team’s career rushing leader who is working his way back from the injury, has practiced but wasn’t going to play.
Ware entered the Packers game with the most preseason rushing attempts. West played in the first preseason game but injured his elbow. He has returned to practice but didn’t play in another game.
West and Ware signed contract extensions on the same day last March.
At the time, Davis was rumored to be on the trading block. Those rumors have persisted through the preseason.
On Thursday, Davis and Darrin Reaves got all the snaps at running backs, and in addition to his touchdown Davis also caught a pass for 7 yards that set up a Cairo Santos field goal at the end of the first half.
Davis finished with 58 yards in 14 attempts.
Davis’ consistent contributions have come as the Chiefs’ primary kickoff return man, and he has excelled there, with touchdowns in each of his first two seasons.
He didn’t return a kick for a touchdown during the 2015 regular season, but he got the Chiefs’ playoff opener off to an amazing start with a 106-yard touchdown return against the Texans in a 30-0 victory.
In last weekend’s game at Chicago, the third preseason game in which the starters played for most of the first half, Davis wasn’t the kick returner on the only attempt of the half. Rookie Tyreek Hill was.
Special teams coach Dave Toub said the Chiefs had a special play designed for Hill, a counter return.
The play didn’t yield much but it was run without Davis, who knows wherever he plays he’ll contribute as a running back and return specialist.
“I’ll do both,” Davis said.
Earlier in the week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the fourth preseason game provided an opportunity to utilize depth and reserves on game film for other teams to scout.
Davis doesn’t lack highlights in his Chiefs career, but he there may not be enough room for him on the roster.