Red Zone

Ask Terez: Can Tyreek Hill handle more of a rushing workload?

Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill has used his speed all over the field this season — including running the ball.
Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill has used his speed all over the field this season — including running the ball.

From now on, I’ll try to answer some of the most common questions I get asked here so everyone can see my answer. Here’s a good one:

I couldn’t have been the only one who said “whoa” when rookie Tyreek Hill took a handoff Sunday against the Tennessee Titans and rocked up the numbers, untouched, for a 68-yard touchdown. What an eye-opener.

Hill has been terrific this year for the Chiefs. There’s no doubt about that, which is why he was recently named one of four Chiefs to make the 2017 Pro Bowl. He’s been their most dynamic offensive threat, and is quickly emerging as a player defenses have to account for at all times, due to his rare combination of top-end speed and quick-twitch explosion. No one gets to top speed faster than Ty Hill, and he very well might be the fastest player in the league. Throw in some above-average ball skills — the guy can track the ball in the air — and the ceiling for this guy is very, very high.

All of that is leading to this: Hill absolutely has the physical ability to handle some running back carries. And you could argue the Chiefs would be wise to start doing just that, because he’d give them the kind of home-run threat that would be a tremendous complement to the hard-charging style of Spencer Ware and the pass-catching talent of Charcandrick West.

But there’s some things you need to remember here, things that could keep the Chiefs from going to the well too much. First off, do not underestimate the pounding running backs take in this league. That’s not a complete deterrent to giving him more carries; Hill is listed at 5 feet 10 and 185 pounds, but I’d argue he’s at least an inch shorter than that and maybe a few pounds more. He possesses a very muscular frame, even in the lower body, and he did carry the ball 102 times in 2014 at Oklahoma State, so he’s equipped to handle some carries.

But the last thing you want is a guy like this, who is so, so valuable as a return man, field-stretching receiver and gadget weapon, to lose some juice because he’s taken too many shots. So that’s one thing.

The second — and most important — thing is that running backs in this league, and especially this offense, have to block. That’s something Hill told me he’s willing to do, even though he obviously hasn’t done it much since he became a Chief.

“I haven’t had to do it on this level,” Hill recently said. “But I can do it.”

Pass-blocking as a running back in the NFL is easier said than done. Several running backs here have told me that it requires a deeper level of understanding of offensive concepts than it did in college. Hill has proven to be a quicker study than anyone expected as a receiver this year, so I wouldn’t put it past him to be able to pick it up. But if he doesn’t earn many more carries this year, it’s a safe bet this is a good reason why.