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Clyde Edwards-Helaire knew he would be ‘pinpointed’ in training camp

The team’s second-year running back is aiming to improve as both a receiver and a runner in 2021.

Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 23-20 in over time during an NFL game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

After being selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Kansas City Chiefs fans had pretty high expectations for former LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

For just about any other running back, his rookie season in Kansas City — with 1,100 scrimmage yards gained in just 13 games — might have been seen as an impressive performance. But in the eyes of some observers — and accounting for the big investment the team had made in him — it didn’t seem like that much.

Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, Edwards-Helaire said that his late-season injury played a role in failing to meet those high expectations — but there were plenty of other factors.

“In the Super Bowl, I was probably about 85% — close to 90%,” he admitted. “But being able to rest was kind of the big thing ... Before that, I had a 15-game championship season with LSU. Three days after that, I was already training — and we hopped right into the season; it was kind of a rolling two years for me of nothing but football. Just having the time to finally let my body recover — and then [being] specific on my training in the offseason and rehab — got me where I am right now.”

Edwards-Helaire said that he’s now 100% healthy and is looking forward to another opportunity to earn the coaching staff's trust as a receiver.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“I was just a rookie last year,” he noted. “Week in and week out, they see it at practice — but when it’s game time, everybody kind of gets into their own rhythm once Pat [gets] comfortable. Everything was kind of sped up at the beginning of the season, so during the season was kind of the time to get comfortable. And it was masks and kind of staying away from each other — so trying to even bond outside, it really wasn’t happening. The only time we were really able to be around each other was on the field.”

So with a full offseason program without last season’s coronavirus restrictions — Edwards-Helaire said that the green band on his wrist indicated he had been vaccinated — he should have a chance to earn more opportunities as a receiver. He said that it was a point of focus in what he called a “big offseason.”

“I was working on hands, working on routes — because I knew I was going to be kind of pinpointed this training camp.”

And being in the system for another year has helped, too.

“Most definitely — especially having the same offense [and] the same scheme,” said the running back. “I got chewed out last year for saying Coach Reid’s playbook wasn’t the hardest — but I mean, I had three different offenses in three years at LSU. That’s just what I do, man. I’m a football player — and this is my job.”

As a runner, Edwards-Helaire said he also wanted to improve on hitting each play’s intended aiming point, saying that, especially in the red zone — where the Chiefs struggled to score in 2020 — there’s only a small margin for error. But beyond that, he doesn’t care much about the running scheme the team employs.

“We do it all,” he explained. “It’s based on the defense that we’re playing — it just depends. But honestly? I’m a running back. I like running in anything that we can make happen — on any scheme that’s working at the time.”