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Kansas City’s Neapolitan backfield promotes creativity, competition

Will chief add veteran running back before draft?

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders with teammate Derrick Gore (40) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo.
AP

Lost in the shuffle of receivers come and gone sits Kansas City’s peculiar running back room. The six-time AFC west champions currently have four backs in-house.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones enter 2022 poised as the unit’s top options. They’re flanked by second-year back Derrick Gore — who flashed in limited action — and lottery ticket Brenden Knox, who, despite eclipsing 2,850 scrimmage yards at Marshall, has yet to record an NFL carry.

This group, paired with a dash of fullback Michael Burton, dives and the occasional Blake Bell tight end sneak, has all the familiar symptoms of an Andy Reid backfield.

“We’re lucky we have a couple of different flavors that we can throw at you,” the Chiefs head coach told reporters of his unit in November 2021.

Stepping in for an injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire, fellow LSU tiger Darrel Williams was the flavor of the day, touching the ball 20 times en route to 144 scrimmage yards and a convincing win over the rival Las Vegas Raiders.

“Clyde’s [Edwards-Helaire] a little different, [Derrick] Gore’s a little different. They all have their different pitches that they’re going to throw at you,” Andy Reid finished.


What’s next for the running back room?

The saying in baseball is, “You can never have enough pitching,” and my official opening day gut check says the Chiefs will mimic that approach, adding another veteran back in free agency.

“I can do everything you need me to do as a running back,” Williams said after his Week 10 breakout performance.

With Edwards-Helaire sidelined, Williams took off, chugging for 191 touches, 1,010 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns in 2021 — all career-highs.

Six-year veteran Jerick McKinnon’s approach also proved effective for Reid and company. Despite an injury-hampered regular season, the 29-year-old back took flight late, tallying 315 scrimmage yards on 50 postseason touches.

A reunion with McKinnon or Williams, paired with a late-round flier in the upcoming draft, promotes creativity and competition among Kansas City’s Neapolitan backfield.