Move over Knile Davis. Step aside, Dexter McCluster. There's a new name at returner that emerged in the Kansas City Chiefs second preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers in Quintin Demps.
While the Chiefs-49ers game left a bad taste after the loss, the return units should have Chiefs nation excited about the possibilities this season under new special teams coach Dave Toub.
Demps went the length of the field and then some with a 104-yard touchdown return in the first quarter on Friday night against San Francisco. Friend of AP @Chief_Wildcat captured it from the stands:
It was the first touchdown for Demps since his rookie year in 2009, and he says it could be a sign of good things this season.
"Toub and [Assistant special teams coach Kevin] O'Dea do a great job coaching us," Demps said after Friday's game against the 49ers. "They are hard on us for blocking, and I think we're going to be special on special teams."
Demps' touchdown comes one week after outstanding efforts from the Chiefs' return units against the Saints in the first week of the preseason. In that game, Davis had a kickoff return for 79 yards, and McCluster went 55 yards on a punt return. Even Devon Wylie looked like a potential spark as a return option in game one, and burst a punt return open for 52 yards against the 49ers on Friday night. That's a heck of a stretch for one position group.
While it's obviously early and it's just the preseason, it should be noted that each of these four plays from Davis, Demps, McCluster and Wylie would have served as the Chiefs' longest return for the entire 2012 season. Last year's longest kick return was Shaun Draughn's 41-yard kick return against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. As for punt returns, the Chiefs looked to Javier Arenas nearly 80 percent of the time and yet the cornerback's longest return was 27 yards. Twenty seven.
The only team without a return longer than the Chiefs in 2012 -- either on kick or punt returns -- was the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs were ranked No. 21 on yards per punt return last year and No. 24 on yards per kick return last year, which puts them a bit higher among the league's worst, but the Chiefs didn't even have a spark that could break through every once in a while. Instead, they were consistently below average without a single instance that changed the direction of a game -- at least in a positive direction.
Special teams play can alter the momentum and outcome at any minute. The Chiefs have seen the best (Dante Hall) and worst, and Dave Toub's unit looks like it can be something special. The Chiefs have several dynamic athletes on the roster at multiple positions, and Andy Reid has to be impressed with what he sees from his returners so far.