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Chiefs coaches hint at running back-by-committee in 2022

It sounds like all three running backs who are active will earn at least a touch.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

It was a bit of a surprise when the Kansas City Chiefs opted to keep four running backs on their roster at the initial 53-man roster deadline. Leading into the deadline, the prevailing thought was that the team would say goodbye to veteran running back Ronald Jones.

But head coach Andy Reid kept Jones, along with starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, returning veteran Jerick McKinnon and rookie Isiah Pacheco. Following the deadline, Reid explained how he sees the rotation going.

“You know we’ll just see how it goes for who’s up and who’s down,” said the head coach. “Some of it depends on special teams and the play there. You know if they’re all up, they’ll have an opportunity to touch the football. If they’re not then whoever is up, there’ll definitely be three of them up, and they’ll touch the football.”

Edwards-Helaire will be one of those players — and earlier this week, special teams coordinator Dave Toub noted Pacheco would be the kick returner. If three players are up, that almost definitely means Jerick McKinnon will be active while Jones will be inactive.

As he did all preseason, Edwards-Helaire will touch the ball first, but then the other backs will be mixed in throughout the game.

“Going into this, we always find a role for all those particular guys — and the thing that you just want to make sure is making sure that everybody’s having an opportunity to get in,” said Chiefs offensive coordinator (and former running backs coach) Eric Bieniemy. “Why? It presents different issues to the defense. It’s all about creating matchups, making sure we can take advantage of certain situations, so yes. Whoever’s up, those guys are going to play because they all bring something different to the table, and they all can help us to be the team we need to be.”

Just as Patrick Mahomes did earlier this week with his comments on the passing game, Bieniemy’s words likely broke the hearts of Chiefs running back fantasy owners everywhere.

It sounds like a running back-by-committee in Kansas City, with coaches leaning into the hot hand.

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