The Kansas City Chiefs are 7-2, set to return from their bye with eight games to play — beginning with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. On Friday, Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub took the podium to share some of the things he has learned this season.
Let’s get to the notes from Toub.
Mecole Hardman moves forward as the team’s returner.
Toub has leaned into Hardman as his kick and punt returner since returning to the team in October.
“We have faith in Mecole,” said Toub. “Mecole’s fine. Keep improving on his decision-making, and we’ll be fine. Got a long way to go. We’re getting better and better each week.”
Toub noted that running back Jerick McKinnon’s return against the Miami Dolphins was on a special play designed particularly for that game.
Punter Tommy Townsend is fine, despite being listed on the injury report due to a wrist injury.
Townsend has been listed on the injury report with a hand/wrist issue since Week 9.
“He’s OK,” said Toub. “He banged up his hand and his wrist, so it concerns you a little bit with the holds — and obviously, catching the punt, the snaps. He did that a while back, so now, we had the week off, so he’s moved on from that. He’s still on the injury report because he wants to keep getting it treated, make sure. It’s still bothering him a little bit, but he’s going to be OK.”
A media member reminded Toub that the Chiefs are a year removed from the Dustin Colquitt-Townsend holder controversy.
“I always knew that Tommy was an excellent holder,” Toub said. “That was something that kind of just came out of nowhere, really, to me. I’ve always had faith in Tommy as a holder. Never lost it. He’s been solid.”
Toub said the team continues to monitor the rule change involving fair catches.
In the offseason, the NFL passed a rule that brings fair catches on kickoffs out to the 25-yard line, including those caught somewhere behind that line. Chiefs statistical analysis coordinator Mike Frazier works with Toub each week to keep him updated.
“Right now, we have Frazier; he’s our analytics guy,” said Toub. “He keeps a study. He’s tracking all the amount of fair catches... There’s been like 43 fair catches so far with short kicks. That ends up being like 17% of the short kicks that are being fair caught. The rest of them are all being returned, still.
“The average is teams are getting it out to the 25.1. So it’s mixed. We’re doing that just to check and see if we’re doing the right things. We always do that. It’s kind of interesting, though.”
Toub likes what he has seen from Leo Chenal and Chamarri Conner.
“That’s a good question,” said Toub. “Right now, Butker is crushing everybody. You take the kickers and the punter out of it, you got Leo Chenal, who’s very, very consistent. He’s been playing great.
“And then, a rookie — Conner — is really doing well. Chamarri. For a rookie, he’s a good player — a really good player.”