The Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie running back Isiah Pacheco entered Saturday’s 19-14 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears as a player to watch. But the recent seventh-round selection appeared only briefly, calling it an afternoon early in the first quarter as the starters took the bench. After seeing just three touches for 11 yards, the coaches appeared to be satisfied with what they saw from Pacheco — an indication that when the games matter, he is in line to have a major role.
“It felt great to be in the first preseason game,” Pacheco told reporters after Monday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “From a kid just waiting all his life to be in an NFL game — to actually play in one for my first time ever going to an NFL game? To be in it felt great. That’s what I always had the mindset to do. It was a dream come true — and I finally did it.”
Pacheco showed veteran instinct on his only reception, staying on his feet through a tackle attempt by Bears cornerback Lamar Jackson. His effort turned a play that might have gained only a yard into one that gained five.
“The balance point was definitely good there,” Pacheco observed. “Catching the ball, it didn’t matter what I did after the play. It was catching the ball first for me — and then getting what I can after. When those opportunities come — take advantage of them.”
While Saturday marked his first taste of professional action after three productive years at Rutgers, Pacheco denied having an issue with the speed of a live NFL game — for which he credited his preparation during training camp.
“Technically, it really didn’t [feel faster],” he said. “I don’t know why, but I just felt like it didn’t. I felt like I was more confident in the scheme, knowing who I had on which play. Being able to execute at a fast pace was something I worked on out here at practice for a game — and it came a little more [easily].”
Pacheco also credited Rutgers (and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers) head coach Greg Schiano with preparing him for the success that now seems within his grasp.
“From Coach Schiano,” he elaborated, “that mental toughness and perseverance and being able to focus on all four quarters of the game is really hard to do. If you can do it at an intense level, everything will fall in place.”
While Pacheco has been one of the biggest stories of Chiefs camp, he claims not to have read his own press, preferring to continue about his business and make his mark on the team.
“I don’t really go into media as much when it comes to guys talking,” he claimed. “I just come out here with the same mindset and come out here and practice — so they can see it on film. Film don’t lie at the end of the day. Put it on and go out here and see guys working hard.
“I was excited to get on the plane and see what the film looked like.”
On Saturday, Pacheco will make his home debut in front of the Arrowhead Stadium crowd, as the Chiefs host the Washington Commanders for their second exhibition game. He is excited about the experience — and how he might feed off of that energy.
“I’m really excited,” he admitted. “They said it’s crazy — there’s a lot of fans there. For me to be out there with a lot of fans, it’s going to bring a lot more juice to me as well.”