Running back has long been a focal point in the Chiefs history. This history includes players like Christian Okoye and Marcus Allen, to Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles. Generally, running back has been a strong focus for the Chiefs offense each year. But now, Kansas City seems to have finally found the answer at quarterback. They do not have to lean on the backfield anymore. While this running back room seemed crowded earlier in camp, things are becoming much more clear. Let’s get things going with our next set of roster predictions.
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Running Backs on the current roster: Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Tremon Smith, Marcus Marshall, Anthony Sherman
Stepping Up To The Plate
When the messy situation with Kareem Hunt occurred last year, Damien Williams benefited greatly. He showed he could provide in a new role, as part of a potent offense down the stretch. Once Hunt was gone, Williams generated 397 total yards on 67 touches and 6 touchdowns to close out the regular season. Prior to that, Williams had just 6 touches and was strictly a special teams player. He was also a big part of the Chiefs postseason run, too. Williams provided a nice pace to combine with the passing attack, and notched 4 total touchdowns.
The Chiefs continuously stated in the offseason the starting job was his. However, a hamstring injury hindered him from practicing for about the first week and a half. This allowed for increased looks with the first team for guys like Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson. Williams will still likely be the top back, but his workload may not be as high as previously advertised. Additionally, Williams has never been the lead back previously in his career. Because of the abilities of Darrel Williams and Thompson, as well as wonders about his health, there’s reason for the Chiefs to be skeptical of Damien Williams’s role as starting running back.
I believe both Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson will surprise at times this year in secondary roles. Darrel seems to already be excelling in ways the Chiefs thought Hyde may have in camp. He’s a tough, physical runner who fights for extra yards up the middle.
Meanwhile, Thompson has arguably had the most buzzworthy performances for the Chiefs offense in the first two preseason games. Kansas City’s sixth round pick has the speed and slipperiness working for him. But the plethora of ways Thompson can beat opponents, pairs well with the offensive mind of Andy Reid.
Perplexing Puzzle Pieces
For guys like Hyde, Tremon Smith and Marcus Marshall things look/sound less promising. When Kansas City signed Hyde early in the offseason, it always felt like something was unclear about how he fit in with the offense. Based off of comments from Chiefs coaches, it is more evident they don’t seem him having a role on the field. The only thing coaches have said about him is the oft-used veteran presence cliché. If the best thing Hyde has to offer is that he’s older, I don’t think he makes the squad. Add in the fact he has underperformed in the preseason, including having a fumble lost against the Steelers.
Tremon Smith, in his second season, was strictly a kick returner as a rookie last season. Midway through camp this year, the Chiefs decided to try and convert him from a cornerback to a running back. The part that made sense there was the speed he added to an already fast offense. But so far in the preseason, Smith has barely stepped foot on the field. His returner role is also looking diminished with De’Anthony Thomas re-signing this week. Others like Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and obviously Tyreek Hill could also easily handle return duties.
For Marcus Marshall, he is just behind too many top backs and the Chiefs don’t have enough roster spots. Marshall has seen some time in the fourth quarter of preseason games. But for him, not much has popped off the screen to elevate his status.
Anthony Sherman, a.k.a the Shermanator, a.k.a. the Sausage, will surely make the team as the fullback. Sherman’s role offensively, while still slim, even seemed to expand last season. Sherman was catching passes in the flats and off of play action more than ever in 2018. It’s also important how much Sherman can provide on special teams. Kansas City, led by Dave Toub, has continued to be one of the top special teams units year in and year out. Sherman’s role is greater than most would imagine for the Chiefs.
Final Depth Chart:
1) Damien Williams
2) Darwin Thompson
3) Darrel Williams
Fullback: Anthony Sherman
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– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.