MORAINE CITY, MOWith Isiah Pacheco taking over as the main featured back halfway through the previous season, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been practically forgotten by the Kansas City Chiefs.
In a manner that Edwards-Helaire, a 2020 first-round selection, never did when he was the starter, Pacheco took ownership of the job, leaving him with little work to do. However, Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium against the Buffalo Bills might see Edwards-Helaire return to a pivotal position.
Due to a shoulder issue, Pacheco was sidelined for the entirety of the week’s practices and was classified by the Chiefs as unavailable for the game in their weekly injury report. Edwards-Helaire can now take that place.
Edwards-Helaire affirmed, “I know I’ll be there to do my job and do what I need to do.” “As far as being on the field as a running back . . . whenever my number’s called, I just go.”
Since Pacheco replaced Edwards-Helaire as the team’s lead back, the Chiefs have not been without him. With Pacheco out of the starting lineup, the Chiefs are entering uncharted territory in that regard.
The other running backs for the Chiefs on Sunday are Dereric Prince and Jeffrick McKinnon. Having missed the previous two games due to a groin ailment, McKinnon is expected to participate, having largely been used on passing downs this season.
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“Everyone in the room is aware that a team effort will be required,” McKinnon remarked.
Given that McKinnon only has 30 rushing yards and 19 catches, that would entail more work for him. Matt Nagy, the offensive coordinator, stated that the Chiefs had restricted his workload due to his advanced age of 31 for a running back.
“He’s been in the league quite a while now, but he takes care of his body,” remarked Nagy. “He performs all tasks in an appropriate manner. In several areas of the offense last year, he had an extremely successful season. You just want to use caution when dealing with him because of that as well as some of the injuries he’s had.
“We love where he’s at and he’s been phenomenal in that room as a leader and as a player.”
Edwards-Helaire should have the most work to do. In Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, he played the most of the second half with the Chiefs leading by a significant margin. That was his lone game this season with more than six carries.
“He’s going to be ready, without a doubt,” McKinnon stated. All the people in that room are prepared. He understands the significance of this moment for him when called upon. I am therefore utterly, completely convinced that he will go forward and carry out his task. He’s ready for the task. In addition to looking terrific, he has taken advantage of possibilities this year by remaining resilient, focused, and self-aggrandizing. I expect nothing less on Sunday.”
Pacheco averages almost a full yard more each rush than Edwards-Helaire, who averages 3.5 yards. With seven catches, he has run 140 yards on the ground. The Chiefs did not draft Edwards-Helaire with the intention of using him as a backup. He was benched in favor of Pacheco last season after missing a large portion of his first three seasons due to injuries.
He’s probably in his final season in Kansas City because the Chiefs chose not to use his contract’s fifth-year option. This might be one of Pacheco’s final opportunities to recoup their draft selection investment, depending on when he returns.
“I think his speed looks good as far as his running between the tackles,” stated Nagy. He has performed exceptionally well. I believe that he has been a really effective mentor and leader in the room, even mentally, while going through a change or going through what he has gone through in the last several years.
“It all begins there, and he tries to maximize every opportunity he gets to play on the field. And it’s the quality about him that I admire the most. And the running back position takes a lot of hits in these circumstances. Thus, you want to have a guy like Clyde who is prepared in case you have an injury or if someone else is the next man up.”