I've been to more than half of the Kansas City Chiefs training camp practices and after every one I come away with some sort of observation about Dexter McCluster. If you've been reading my practice reports, it's usually "McCluster juked so-and-so out of his shoes!" or "McCluster moves like he's in a video game!"
I've been hyping him up quite a bit for good reason and the local media has been doing the same.
"The Chiefs have never seen anyone like this," Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes. "Dante Hall is the closest thing — you remember that magical stretch in the early 2000s when he became a big enough star to sit on David Letterman’s couch.
"Hall had seven return touchdowns in two seasons, highlighted by that ridiculous 93-yard punt return against the Broncos in 2003 (even if a clip or two went uncalled).
"McCluster’s impact could be greater."
At the Chiefs first "scrimmage" on Saturday, we didn't see any of that. The Chiefs put him on the field (in the same backfield as Jamaal Charles at one point) but didn't feature him in the offense. He was not a factor whatsoever which was probably disappointing to the 10,721 fans, many of whom came because of McCluster.
My guess is that the Chiefs realize the hype is getting slightly out of control. They don't want another Bobby Sippio-esque situation where the hype far outweighs the talent and the only possible result is failure.
I'm not saying McCluster's not talented. I think he is. But he hasn't yet played a game and with every passing day through training camp, the pressure on him grows and grows.
Don't let the Chiefs fool you. They understand the media and things like perception. If McCluster was thrown out there making some of the plays he's made in previous camp practices, word would spread quickly. He already landed on the front page -- and he barely practiced Saturday.
My guess is that they're going to try and slightly temper expectations for the young rookie. By all accounts he's going to be good. Very good.
But he needs to prove it on the field first.