KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs center Rodney Hudson inconspicuously goes about his business as the steady force on the offensive line.
“He’s very quiet,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said Thursday. “He’s very kind of to himself, but yet he gets out onto the football field and he becomes a different player.”
The 6-2, 299-pound Hudson doesn’t command the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean his performances aren’t appreciated.
“I tell you, Rodney is the anchor of that offensive line, obviously,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said Thursday. “And everything kind of goes through Rodney; from calls, from getting the other four guys going in the right direction.”
The Chiefs rely on Hudson as the quarterback of the offensive line and his athleticism to often pull as the lead blocker on sweeps.
“When you have an athletic center like he is,” Pederson said, “it’s good to be able to utilize him that way.”
The attention on Hudson, who enters the final year of his contract, isn’t limited to the Chiefs.
Hudson’s skillset also drew appreciation from Sunday’s opponent, as St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinatis singled out Hudson during Wednesday’s media conference call.
“I love the center,” Laurinaitis said. “The center can pull really well.
LEAP OF FAITH
The Chiefs move to cornerback Jamell Fleming over Marcus Cooper in Week 7 raised more than a share of eyebrows.
But the Chiefs were comfortable making the change with the third-year pro despite signing Fleming just a little more than a month before.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said Thursday there were factors involved, which included Fleming turning heads in practice and the Chiefs wanted to address some of Cooper’s shortcomings.
“It wasn’t just Coop(er) not playing as well as we’d like,” Sutton said. “It was also Fleming showing us in practice and going against our first offense and that for a couple weeks, maybe this guy deserves a look and so we said, ‘Hey, let’s take a look and see how it will turn out.’”
Fleming wasn’t the only player to experience the jump from a backup role to starter against the Chargers. Rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines started in place of cornerback Chris Owens, who was out with a knee injury.
Still, the Chiefs knew what Gaines offered after watching him throughout the offseason and training camp.
Fleming was a wildcard based on signing with the Chiefs on Sept. 12, but he rewarded the team with a team-leading six tackles against San Diego.
“Fleming was a lot shorter work-span in there,” Sutton said, “the body of work that we can look at. So yeah, there was some unknown in it, but like I said, we saw enough to say ‘Hey, let’s take the leap.’”
The San Diego Chargers called a timeout with less than 25 seconds remaining in the game in an attempt to ice Chiefs rookie kicker Cairo Santos’ field goal attempt from 48 yards.
Most kickers around the league go through with the kick despite the play blown dead, but Santos stood firm as the officials stopped the clock.
“I wanted him to kick it,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Thursday. “We got the snap and the hold, but he didn’t kick it. You want to kick that ball, so you can get some information even though they called a timeout in it. Even if the ball goes out, right, you get feedback on the wind, but he didn’t kick it and then he just stood there and I was like, ‘They’re really freezing this guy.’”
The results were more than fine when play resumed, as Santos booted the game-winning field goal with 21 seconds remaining on the clock.
“He had the whole gamut on that deal and he still made that kick,” Toub said. “We’re proud of him.”
The moments from the timeout to the actual kick probably played out like a coach exclaiming, “No!” just before a player came through, leading to a coach to yell, “Yes!”
Rookie kicker Cairo Santos started his career with the Chiefs by going 2-of-4 on field goal attempts.
He has made the last six attempts and part of the success is attributed to the advice he’s received from around the league.
“I talked to (Chicago Bears kicker) Robbie Gould,” Santos said Wednesday. “He called me out of nowhere and was really nice. He’s a great guy and just shared his experiences of his rookie year.”
Santos also said he talked to his friend, Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis.
“He’s young,” Santos said. “He went through that last year.”
The list of helping hands doesn’t stop, as Santos said he also talked to other veteran kickers.
“(New England Patriots kicker) Steve Gostkowski,” Santos said, “guys that we’ve played against. I try to pick their brain a little bit just to understand what they think about. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to trust your swing and kick with confidence.”
Santo also boosted confidence with teammates after they watched him nail the game-winning kick.
“He drilled the kick and we were really excited for him,” said punter Dustin Colquitt, who serves as Santos’ holder. “It’s confidence for everybody because we know, hey, we get to the 35-, 36-yard line, we can count on points.”