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Andy Reid: Isiah Pacheco runs hard every time he touches the ball

On Saturday, Kansas City’s head coach praised his rookie running back.

NFL: MAY 26 Kansas City Chiefs OTA Offseason Workouts Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid says that his rookie running back Isiah Pacheco only has one speed: going full throttle with the pedal to the floor.

“You’re guaranteed he’s going to run hard,” Reid told reporters after Saturday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “That’s what he’s going to do.”

After the Chiefs drafted Pacheco in the seventh round in late April, we brought you a film review of the teams new running back, seeing something very similar to what Reid was describing.

Pacheco hits every hole going a thousand miles an hour. He doesn’t show a lot of patience — but if you give him clear lanes, he will explode through them for big gains. There is no quit in him — and he runs as hard in the fourth quarter as he does in the first. He is the type of running back who needs a good offensive line for him to be successful.

During our film review, we suggested that Pacheco would benefit from learning to be a little bit more patient: allowing blocks to develop instead of running full speed into the hole. In Saturday’s remarks, Reid seemed to agree.

“Will he have to learn the different schemes and how they work against certain defenses — and at times, be patient?” asked Reid rhetorically. “He’ll learn that.”

Part of Pacheco’s impatience when carrying the ball may stem from playing behind a terrible offensive line in college.

In his senior season at Rutgers, Pacheco averaged a meager 3.9 yards per carry — primarily because of the offensive line’s poor play. In 2021 Football Outsiders ranked the Scarlet Knights 103rd in line yards per carry at 2.43.

This means that on his own, Pacheco averaged an extra 1.5 yards per attempt.

But on the other hand, one area where it can be to a player’s advantage to immediately run as hard as possible is in the return game. This is probably why special teams coordinator Dave Toub revealed last week that the rookie is getting the first shot at returning kicks in 2022.

“We’re going to start him off as the guy and see if he can handle it,” said Toub. “See how he does in the preseason. In a few games, we’ll be able to know right away. He’s promising. He’s a big guy — 215 plus. Ran [a] 4:37 [40-yard dash]. That’s kind of scary back there if we can get that thing going. We used Pringle that way. We think we can do that with Pacheco.”

If Pacheco can win the starting job at kick returner, that will guarantee him a roster spot — and could lead to increased offensive opportunities, too.

Like most late-round selections, Pacheco is still a work in progress. But Reid said that he likes the package the team received upon drafting him in April.

“He’s is a good catcher,” noted the head coach, “so he can catch the football. The rest of all that we can work with — and he’s doing that now. He’s learning the feel of it.”

While it’s unlikely that Pacheco will be dethroning the incumbent starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, he is firmly in the mix to become the No. 2 running back. He is, however, facing stiff competition. Veterans Ronald Jones, Jerrick McKinnon and Derrick Gore are all vying to earn their way into the rotation. Reid doesn’t see that as a problem.

“I like the depth at running back,” he said. “I’m curious to see those guys compete in games... It looks like a good group.”

We’ll get our first look at Pacheco and the rest of the running backs on Saturday, when Kansas City opens its 2022 preseason campaign on the road against the Chicago Bears.

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