Damien Williams opting out of the 2020 NFL season solidified rookie first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the team’s top running back — but over the past month, the roles behind him were up for grabs during training camp.
In the end — after apparently flirting with the idea of bringing veteran Adrian Peterson aboard — the Chiefs landed on keeping Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson while releasing DeAndré Washington, whom they signed this past offseason. The Chiefs also kept fullback Anthony Sherman.
Williams — who had 56 touches, more than 300 scrimmage yards and four total touchdowns for the Chiefs last season — is listed as the No. 2 back behind Edwards-Helaire on the team’s first iteration of their unofficial depth chart. The Chiefs signed Williams as an undrafted free agent out of LSU — the alma mater he shares with Edwards-Helaire — back in 2018.
“He’s one of those guys that he’s been here for such a long time and there’s a lot of trust in regards to his ability in all phases of the game – running and blocking, in particular, pass pro too,” explained Chiefs general manager Brett Veach on Sunday. “I mean, he’s really good in pass pro, he’s taught Clyde quite a lot. Certainly, we’re all excited about Clyde. We know what he can do, and he’ll continue to learn and grow, and we think he certainly has an extremely high ceiling.”
And then Thompson — whom the Chiefs selected in the sixth round of last year’s NFL Draft — staved off the free agent. Thompson had 46 touches for 171 scrimmage yards and a touchdown as a rookie.
“Darwin was a guy that really had the upper hand and held on to it,” noted Veach. “Having been here a year, having gone through the Super Bowl run with us, being a contributor on special teams, you know he got some stiff competition from DeAndré, but he was able to answer the call and hold on to that position. That was a close battle, but give Darwin a lot of credit for coming into work every day and staying focused on the on the task at hand.”
It is a young group, with Edwards-Helaire, Williams and Thompson starting the season at the respective ages of 21, 25 and 24. The Chiefs managed to keep the 27-year-old Washington on their practice squad.
“We think he’s a good player,” Veach added. “But again, a lot of credit goes to Darwin and his ability to kind of just come in every day and not get distracted and hold on to that job.”