Tyreek Hill adds AFC special teams award to resume

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Kansas City Chiefs rookie wide receiver claims he lost a race once, but that seems hard to believe with the blazing speed he displayed against the Oakland Raiders while running away with the award for AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill races for a touchdown on a punt return during the second quarter of the team's 21-10 win over the Oakland Raiders Dec. 8, 2016.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill races for a touchdown on a punt return during the second quarter of the team’s 21-13 win over the Oakland Raiders Dec. 8, 2016.

“Yeah, I lost – one time,” Hill said. “It was a professional race, actually. The guy out of Great Britain. The guy was pretty fast.”

Hill likely references the 2012 World Junior Championships, where he finished fourth in the 100-meter final behind Great Britain’s Adam Gemili. Hill won a bronze medal in the same championships in the 200-meter final along with a team gold in the 100-meter relay.

The dazzling speed that put Hill on a podium with the fastest young men in the world also catapulted him into rare air among NFL rookies. This week’s special teams award along with the AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in week 12 makes him the first rookie to win both awards since Reggie Bush in 2006.

“It means a lot, just to be up there with a name like that,” Hill said. “The name Reggie Bush just speaks for itself for what he’s done. Not only what he’s done in college, but what he’s done in this league.”

Hill — who not surprisingly earned the nickname “Cheetah” from his high school friends — continues to make a dramatic impact in his rookie campaign. He leads the league in punt return yards (473), punt return average (15.3) and total kick return yards (840).

He also tallied 56 catches for 547 yards with nine total touchdowns. He’s the first NFL player to score a touchdown rushing, receiving and kick returning in the same game since Kansas legend Gale Sayers pulled the feat in 1965.

Quarterback Ales Smith said he quickly grew to trust Hill and feels free to aggressively challenge defenses in the rookie’s direction.

“When throwing the ball, he tracks it so well you can really trust him down the field to go and get it,” Smith said. “Hats off to him for those two things and making it look easy.”

Hill said he also continues to grow more and more comfortable on the offensive side of the ball.

“Every game there is something to correct, always,” Hill said. “In our minds, we just have to start taking shots. Alex is beginning to have that trust in not only me, but everybody else around. It’s opening up shorter routes.”

Hill turnover over the ball on muffed a punt early at the end of the first drive of the game for Oakland. That miscue setup the Raiders for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

A penalty on the Raiders setup Hill’s punt return for a second-quarter touchdown.  As the Raiders lined up to kick again to the speedster, the Arrowhead Stadium crowd sensed something special. A spontaneous chant of “Tyreek” eruputed just moments before the kick.

“I was like, ‘Woah, I don’t want to drop another punt. They’re chanting my name,'” Hill said.

The touchdown made the score 21-3, and put the Chiefs on their way to victory.

“I just appreciate the fans showing me love, showing my teammates love,” Hill said. “They really hyped us up, and we scored.”

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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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