KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs got a bitter taste of what Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray can do with limited playing time.
The second-year pro gashed the Chiefs in Week 12 with 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just four carries before leaving with a concussion midway through the second quarter.
Murray’s performance, which included a 90-yard touchdown run, left a lasting impression on Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
“He’s real good,” defensive tackle Dontari Poe said of Murray during a Wednesday conference call with Raiders beat writers. “Fast, explosive, finds the hole real well. We’ve got to kind of put a hat on him and then try to keep him out of each hole.”
Still, Chiefs’ defenders actually putting a hat on running backs in the past four games have been few and far between.
Opponents during that span have combined for whopping 738 yards rushing against Kansas City’s run defense, which currently ranks 31st (136.8 yards rushing allowed per game) in the league.
And the Chiefs will have to deal with a healthy Murray, who rushed for 76 yards on 23 carries in Week 14.
“He’s looking good,” Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano said of Murray during Wednesday’s conference call with Chiefs beat writers. “He played obviously last week in the ballgame. After he left the Kansas City game, we missed him for the St. Louis game, and then he came back last week, played in the game, did a nice job. He’ll be ready to go.”
The first round went to Murray and the Raiders.
Oakland produced 179 yards rushing in Week 12 and Murray scored the first two rushing touchdowns allowed on the season by the Chiefs.
The results of the second round will go a long way in determining if the Chiefs’ playoff hopes are still alive.
“We know what they can bring,” linebacker Joe Mays said. “We played them a game already, so we know the type of things that they like to do. We just have to learn how we’re going to attack them and how we’re going to play them.”
RIGHTING THE SHIP
The Chiefs, losers of three straight games, have reached must-win status for the rest of the season.
Perhaps a return to Arrowhead Stadium will help, but the Chiefs can’t be sloppy and beat themselves with a repeat of nine penalties from Week 14.
“That’s mainly what we’ve been doing,” tight end Travis Kelce said. “Penalties, turnovers, things like that on the offensive side the ball, missed assignments and just flat-out not executing.”
The Chiefs know what’s at stake Sunday.
Securing the win will snap the losing skid, but it is also the first step in the right direction if the Chiefs are to stay alive in the chase for the postseason.
“You can’t get to that end of the line there unless we take that first step,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “And that starts on Sunday and really this week, and having that great week or preparation. So it’s staying short-sighted, exactly that, not getting ahead of yourself. Everything is right here, right in front of us.”
DIFFERENT TEAM, FAMILIAR FACES
Linebacker JoJo Dickson, whom the Chiefs signed to the practice squad Tuesday, was all smiles Wednesday in the locker room.
“It’s a great opportunity, a great organization,” Dickson said. “I’m just excited – first day of practice today – to get out there and mix it up a little bit with these new guys. I’m excited, very grateful for this opportunity.”
Dickson, who entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Idaho with the Jacksonville Jaguars, has bounced around from Jacksonville to the Cleveland Browns to the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals.
But his arrival in Kansas City was met by friendly faces.
Dickson knows linebacker Josh Mauga and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton from his time in New York, and he played with linebacker James-Michael Johnson in Cleveland.
“Bob actually helped me get with the Jets,” Dickson said. “It’s a good atmosphere to be around. A lot of people I know kind of pulling for me.”
There is also an “Aloha” feel for Dickson, a native of Wailuku, Hawaii.
Dickson said he enjoyed breakfast Wednesday morning with the Chiefs’ other two players of Polynesian descent, Mauga and practice squad defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo.
Reconnecting with Mauga carried special significance for Dickson, who said the two stayed in touch since they went separate ways from the Jets.
“The last I was with him, he had a bad back,” Dickson said. “I was happy to see him out here playing and I just told him I was happy for him. I came out here earlier in November for a workout, got to see him a little bit. It’s good to be out here with familiar faces.”