KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Injuries forced to the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs to shuffle their roster, re-signing free agent back running back C.J. Spiller and promoting wide receiver Marcus Kemp from the club’s practice squad.
The Chiefs made space for the roster moves by sending wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas and running back Akeem Hunt to injured reserve.
Thomas broke his tibia returning a punt on Sunday against the Denver Broncos and underwent surgery after the game. Hunt entered Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, but then twisted his ankle against Denver.
Spiller’s return provides depth both at running back and special teams. The loss of Hunt and Thomas takes out Kansas City’s top two kick returners. Wide receivers Albert Wilson and Jehu Chesson along with safety Leon McQuay filled in as kick returners Sunday against Denver.
Hunt led the team with a 24.4-yard return average on 25 kick returns during the regular season. He also picked up 23 yards on eight carries in a limited role on offense.
Thomas started the season as the team’s lead kick return before giving way to Hunt. He averaged 23.5 yards per kick return in 13 tries. He also served as the principal backup on punt returns to Tyreek Hill, returning eight punts for 16 yards. He finishes the season with 14 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns along with one rush for four yards.
Kemp’s promotion gives the Chiefs five wide receivers on the active roster. That could prove critical with Wilson missing practice on Tuesday due to a tight hamstring. He turned a career-best performance on Sunday, hauling in 10 catches for 147 yards in just 28 offensive snaps.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Kemp appeared in just one game for the Chiefs this season. He played eight offensive snaps and four special teams in that game.
Spiller’s return marks the fifth time the Chiefs have signed the veteran back in the space of less than a year. He first signed with the club as a free agent Feb. 24 before a series of roster mathematics and injuries bounced Spiller on and off the roster.
The club cut Spiller following preseason, a move which allowed the Chiefs to transfer cornerback Steven Nelson to injured reserve. He re-signed with the team two days later, only to receive his release again three days later, hours ahead of the club’s season opener. That meant Spiller’s contract would not be guaranteed for the season.
Spiller rejoined the team again two days later, this time spending a week on the roster before his next release. The club released Spiller, coincidentally, to make room for Akeem Hunt on the active roster.
The Chiefs picked up Spiller for a fourth time in October after backup Charcandrick West sustained a concussion. The team released Spiller a week later on Oct. 23.
The eight year veteran played just one game for the Chiefs during the regular season, rushing twice for 2 yards.