Before Thursday’s practice session, Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub took a turn with local reporters — and in the process, confirmed that veteran wide receiver Mecole Hardman would once again be the team’s main punt returner when the season gets underway against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. And as expected, rookie running back Isiah Pacheco will be the primary kickoff returner.
“That’s the way we’ll go in,” said Toub. “I mean, we’re not trying to hide anything; everybody knows what we do. We need our best players on the field — and those are our guys.
“[I’m] really excited to see the young guy. I know what Mecole brings to the table — [and] he’s excited about being that guy. And Pacheco? Excited.”
Toub said that Pacheco is going to fit very well into how the team approaches kickoffs.
“I think Isiah’s going to hit it — hard,” he declared. “[He’s] going to be hard to bring down. The first thing I want him to do, though, is catch the ball — make sure he catches it before he takes off.
“But I think he’s going to fit our style — what we do on kick returns — pretty good. And he’s fired up about it, too. That’s what’s exciting about it.”
Still, Toub said that rookies playing special teams are a double-edged sword — even when the general manager Brett Veach has provided so many good ones.
“The young guys excite me — and the young guys terrify me, too,” he laughed. “I’m excited about it, really, because I think Veach brought in some good players. We have eight out of nine guys who made our team. They’re all going to help us on special teams. I’m excited about what we have. [I] can’t wait to see them when the live bullets come — and see how they handle it. But I feel pretty good about them.
“They’re going to make some mistakes. There’s going to be, you know, some things that surprise you — like, ‘Why’d you do that?’ But I think in the long run — after a couple of weeks — I think they’re going to settle in and be pretty darned good.”
Toub said he has a simple standard for his players — particularly the rookies.
“As long as they don’t make the same mistake twice,” he said, “that’s all I ask. If they do that, we’ll keep improving week-to-week.”
He also said that he was happy tight end Noah Gray was back with the team in 2022.
“He’s a four-phase guy for us,” remarked Toub. “He plays on every phase — but he’s also doing a lot of offense, too. We ask a lot of him. But he’s a smart guy — he’s able to handle it — and he got better and better as the year went on last year. He became one of our best guys. We’re glad to have him back; he’s an important guy to us.”