KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rookie fullback Kareem Hunt will make his first start on Sunday in the divisional playoff game against the Cleveland Browns in Kansas City. Considering the time he spent with the Chiefs and the season he spent with the Browns, they won’t like this experience.
The chiefs have not suffered since they fired Hunt two seasons ago after a video was shown of him pushing and punching a woman. They won the Super Bowl last year and went 14-2, winning their fifth straight AFC West championship this season.
That doesn’t mean the chiefs won’t watch Hunt on Sunday and wonder what might have happened if things had gone differently. Since they fired Hunt, they have been led by seven different backs in 42 games.
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We love Kareem, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. He was here and he’s a great guy and I’m so happy for him that he’s okay. Really, when the time comes, that’s all that matters. You put the game aside and you want to make sure that these guys end up going in the right direction so that they can continue to do that for the rest of their lives, and I’m happy for him.
The Chiefs made their first real attempt to replace Hunt this year by hiring Clyde Edwards-Heler in the first round. His rookie season was good – he ran for 803 yards, caught 36 passes and scored five touchdowns – but nothing like Hunt’s rookie season with the Chiefs in 2017.
Hunt led the NFL in rushing this year with 1,327 yards. He also caught 53 passes and scored 11 touchdowns. The Chiefs have changed since then, with Patrick Mahomes replacing Alex Smith as quarterback, and they rely more on passers like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill than their backs.
Hunter’s numbers with the Browns this season are similar to those of Edwards-Helaire, who ran for 841 yards, caught 38 passes and scored 11 touchdowns. Edwards-Heller trained for the first time on Wednesday after missing the last two games due to ankle and hip injuries. The Chiefs aren’t sure he’ll play against the Browns yet, though his return to practice is a positive sign.
I had a chance to see him in a couple of late rehabs, and he came after them, Reed said. It depends a lot on how you approach it and how much confidence you have in the coaches, etc. … I’m telling you, this guy, he just went for it. I mean, he’s not afraid of that, and so I would say he’s probably a little early, and we just have to appreciate that. We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize his career, I mean, that’s not what we do. He and I have done this day after day, and we will continue to do it and see how he does here.
Error! The file name is not specified. In one of his final games for the Chiefs in the 2018 season, Kareem Hunt dominated the Browns with three trips to the end zone. Scott R. Galvin-USA Sports Today
In October, the Chiefs added Le’Veon Bell, who led the Chiefs in rushing in one game, but was essentially a role player even when Edwards-Heller was not in the lineup. He doesn’t look like the impact player the Pittsburgh Steelers were, even though the Chiefs didn’t give him much of a chance.
I think it shows those flashes and the beauty of our situation, [that] we have other guys that can complement each other very well, so there wasn’t a situation this year where we needed one person to be the guy carrying the post, Coach Deland McCullough said. We are therefore convinced that he will succeed in the role we have entrusted to him.
The Chiefs also have Darrel Williams, who led the Chiefs with 46 yards in their last win in Week 16 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Darrel has been doing this since he got here, when he had a good chance, McCullough said. One of his greatest skills is his reliability and the employees love him. We trust him. A man has skills that, again, if you put him in the right position, a man can show.
The Browns will play Hunt and Nick Chubb on Sunday. During the regular season, they combined for over 1,900 yards of racing. Hunt scored two touchdowns in the Browns’ win over the Steelers.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he took charge while Nick was away. He goes even though we both have great guys and don’t miss a chance. He runs very hard and tries to fight for every square inch there is.
He’s someone I have a lot of respect for, the way he plays, the way he works, his teammate.
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