Notebook: Tyreek Hill shifts workload to offense from special teams

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Running back Knile Davis handled kickoff returns duties for the Chiefs Sunday against Carolina, and that scenario expects to continue as the team curtails special teams duty for rookie Tyreek Hill as his offensive portfolio expands.

Kansas City Chiefs wide Receiver Tyreek Hill celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. Sunday October 23, 2016 in Kansas City, MO (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Kansas City Chiefs wide Receiver Tyreek Hill celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. Sunday October 23, 2016 in Kansas City, MO (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

“We do ask him to do a lot,” co-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said of Hill. “And then you take into account his role on special teams and the fact that he’s a rookie. So right now, it’s a long part of the season and we certainly need to take that into consideration and understand how his body and mind will react.”

Hill played just five snaps on special teams Sunday, all as a punt returner. Hill leads the NFL with 327 punt return yards and ranks second in punt return average with 15.6 yards.

The rookie also played 39 offensive snaps while picking up 89 yards on a career-high 10 receptions.

The Chiefs also removed Hill from gunner duties on punt return coverage. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub acknowledged the team wants to decrease the physical burden on Hill.

“He’s out there a lot, he’s running a lot, kickoff returns, you run that and then you’re playing offense,” Toub said. “It makes sense to take a guy, a good player that can come off the field instead of having to run a long route for an offensive play.

Nagy said the team holds no concerns Hill cannot handle a heavy workload.

“He’s doing great,” Nagy said. “We’ve loaded him up offensively with some things and he’s done a great job with it. But you have to keep all of that in mind moving forward.”

TWO LONG SNAPPERS?

It might take two players to replace one James Winchester if the team’s regular long snapper does not return for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Toub suggested both tight end Travis Kelce and fullback Anthony Sherman might split the duties. Kelce serves as the team’s primary backup long snapper, but Toub prefers allowing both players to focus on specific snapping duties.

That means Kelce likely would handle punt snap duties while Sherman takes on shorter placekick snaps.

“The idea behind using both guys is that it’s so hard to be a snapper, to do a long snap and then shift to a short snap,” Toub said.

But Toub left the door open that Kelce could handle all long snapping duties in an emergency.

“I just wanted Kelce to focus on long snapping and then Sherman is another guy that we can use in a short snapping situation” Toube said. “He’s not the number one guy he’s more like the number three guy.”

Winchester left the team Tuesday following the tragic shooting death of his father. The team hopes to have Winchester back Sunday, but continues preparing for any eventuality.

CONLEY BACKUPS COLQUITT

The Chiefs showed another new wrinkle in their special teams emergency plans with wide receiver Chris Conley practice kick holding duties.

Fellow wide receiver Jeremy Maclin normally practices as the team’s backup kick holder. Maclin remains on the sidelines with a groin strain, necessetating the need for a replacement.

Conley worked with the specialists during the portion of practice open to the media on Tuesday, and practiced taking snaps from Sherman on Wednesday.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.


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