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Chiefs coaches say Clyde Edwards-Helaire has room to grow vs. Chargers

The NFL’s leading rusher (through Week 1) enters Sunday’s game with points he wants to correct.

NFL: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs debuted a new wrinkle to their offense last Thursday — and demonstrated that even with all their firepower, it can be a run-first offense. The strategy was very much intentional.

“It’s always good to establish the run game because it opens up a lot of different things,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy explained, “especially with the quarterback that we have and the receivers that we have out on the perimeter. I thought the young kid (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) did a heck of a job, but hats off to the guys in the front. Our O-Line did a heck of a job of keeping [Patrick Mahomes] clean and they did a heck of a job of blocking in the run game. Kudos to our tight ends and our receivers down field as well.”

Edwards-Helaire finished with 25 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. After one week, his 138 yards lead the NFL.

“The kid did a very good job,” Bieniemy added. “There are some things — and some reads — that I know he missed and I know he’d want to take back. Those are the little things that will help him grow and continue to move forward in the season.”

From a nitpicking standpoint, the only place Edwards-Helaire seemed to struggle was at the goal line. The rookie carried the ball six times inside the 5-yard line. He lost two yards and was held without a score.

“I can tell you speaking from the running back perspective, we take it very personally if we didn’t score,” running backs coach Deland McCullough said. “It was a situation where Clyde, again with it be in his first game in the NFL with no preseason etc., live opportunities down there on the goal line, bottom line is — if you follow all the keys that we’re coached up to do in that room, he scores. So some of the things we talked about right now will be a moot point. But again, as he continues to grow and he’ll take a big growth after last game and he’ll take another big step into this game — but regardless of what the plan is, when we are down there, the running back’s job is to score and we need to do everything we coach to do and we’ll score a touchdown.”

That said, McCullough noted that the Chiefs acquired what was advertised on his college tape from LSU: Edwards-Helaire showed the ability to make guys miss and run with a low center of gravity — and also displayed good contact balance and vision.

“It was on par with what we drafted him in the first round, so we definitely were excited about that, had the opportunity to show that in a live situation repeatedly so you know it was definitely encouraged by that,” added McCullough. “It’s just the amount of growth that happens from your first full game to your second one, so that’s the part that I’m excited about, that we’re all excited about is, man he has some hiccups in the first game, which is – that’s to be expected, you know, but here you’re coming into the second game I mean, he’s really grown a lot. You’re talking about just from last game to the next practice that we had a few days ago just learning and being able to see on tape, ‘wow I didn’t do this, I should have did this, I can’t do this.’ It’s going to be – I would expect there to be some bigger steps coming into this game, too.”

Last week, the Chargers defense showed some success defending against the run, holding running back Joe Mixon to 69 yards on 19 carries. It could be a whole different story against the Chiefs, considering their numerous weapons — and a rookie first-rounder eager to clean up his few mistakes.