June 17, 2014; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs running back Joe McKnight during Day One of minicamp. Photo used with permission by Chiefs PR. Credit: KCChiefs.com.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – A knee scope after minicamp limited running back Joe McKnight to observing 10 straight training camp practices on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
But good news arrived Monday, as McKnight returned to the field for the first time since the second day of minicamp on June 18.
“It felt good just to get out here with the team,” McKnight said, “go through some plays and get hit a little bit. We didn’t have a really live (hitting) day, but it’s a good thing I got out here with the team before going into the game.”
Meanwhile, the fourth-year pro said he’s healthy and a “full-go,” but is still working on strengthening with the trainers.
McKnight, who spent the 2013 season out of football after the New York Jets waived him in training camp, is currently buried on the Chiefs’ initial depth chart. His return to action signals the battles for the No. 3 running back position and kickoff returner will become interesting.
McKnight said he spent a lot of time while on the PUP list in meetings with running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to stay on top of the playbook.
But the former USC Trojan’s primary contributions could come on special teams, where running back Knile Davis is listed atop the depth chart. The rest of the returner depth chart shapes out with running back De’Anthony Thomas and wide receiver Frankie Hammond.
McKnight brings experience and an edge to the returner battle. He averages 29.01 yards per kickoff return, which ranks as the third-highest career return average in NFL history (minimum 75 returns) behind Gale Sayers (30.56) and Lynn Chandnois (29.57).
His return couldn’t come at a better time with the team’s first preseason game arriving Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Still, coach Andy Reid said not to anticipate McKnight playing.
“He’s healthy,” Reid said. “We eased him kind of back into things. I wouldn’t expect him out there for Thursday night. I won’t do that to him.”
Regardless what happens in the preseason opener, McKnight is happy to be back in the competition after the missed time.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said.