Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco has been one of the breakout players from the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. Though a seventh-round selection, the Rutgers product seems to be mentioned daily in camp updates, as he is often rotating in with the starters. Pacheco also earned praise from head coach Andy Reid on Saturday.
Chiefs fullback Michael Burton, however, is not surprised by his new teammate’s success. As a fellow Rutgers alumnus, Burton followed Pacheco through his tenure as a Scarlet Knight.
“A few years ago, when he was at Rutgers, I came back for some spring practices,” Burton recalled. “I thought, ‘OK, this kid’s got some juice.’ He’s strong, powerful [and] he can run. Good kid. Wants to learn. He’s been exciting to watch out here — and he’s been doing a great job.”
The Rutgers connection with Burton provided Pacheco with an early contact among his new teammates.
“When he got drafted, he reached out to me,” said Burton. “We communicated a little bit. I tried to prep him for rookie minicamp and OTAs — and what to expect in training camp. And just life as a rookie? It can be tough at times. So [I’m] just trying to help him out any way I can.”
After seeing him at Rutgers, Burton said he knew Pacheco would be able to succeed in the NFL.
“He might have been a sophomore at the time,” he said. “The coaches back at Rutgers were talking about him. It all came true when I saw him at practice and run. He’s tough, he’s willing to block. He can be a three-down guy. He’s been doing a lot of great things for us.”
Burton said that blocking for Pacheco — the fastest back in the 2022 NFL draft with a 4.37 40-yard dash time — is different than it is for the team’s other running backs.
“It’s nice to know you’ve got a guy like Pacheco — who’s got a lot of juice out of his stance,” he explained. “So maybe you’ve got to make sure you get out of there a little bit quicker — while maybe a back that’s a little bit more patient, he’s going to read it through. So then you have a little bit more time to read it through as well.
“I like to get feedback from them and what they want. I’m out there to help them succeed the best they can. It’s just a lot of communication back and forth.”
Of course, Pacheco and Burton have the opportunity to be teammates only because the Chiefs are one of the last NFL teams to roster a true fullback. Burton hopes that his work with Pacheco and the other running backs illustrates the need for his position.
“Coach Reid — he believes in having a fullback,” Burton noted. “It’s my job to make sure he wants to carry one. I believe players make the depth chart, not the coaches. So it’s my job to take full [advantage] of every opportunity I get. Whether it’s blocking, carrying [or] catching. Special teams is also incredibly important.
“You’ve got to be a guy who’s going to contribute and bring value to the team. And then, [the coach will] be able to carry a fullback.”