The Kansas City Chiefs continue to work through their punt returner situation.
With Mecole Hardman and Kadarius Toney out with injuries, the team gave Skyy Moore another chance at the punt returner job in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. With it came his third muffed punt of the season.
While Chiefs ST coordinator Dave Toub says Toney is the team’s best punt returner and will have the job when he returns, they’re going in a different direction while he remains out. So who are they looking at instead of Moore with Week 13’s tilt with the Bengals on the horizon?
“Uhhh, Justin (Watson),” Toub said. “We’re going to look at Justin Watson. (Trent) McDuffie. We’ll go there, start there.
“They’re maybe not as elusive as Skyy (Moore), with a quick first step and separation that I know he has. Both of those guys have good long speed, especially Watson, he’s probably one of our fastest players on the team. But it’s that change of direction. They’re both good catchers, solid catchers. Right now, that’s what we need.”
Toub is still fervent in his belief that Skyy Moore can be a great punt returner and he doesn’t plan on giving up on him. He says that Moore will continue to get work on punt returns during practice.
“Oh yeah,” Toub said. “We’re not giving up. We just don’t quit on players. We’re going to keep working on them, keep developing them. I mean, he’s a rookie. He’s going to get better. I’ve said it before. We went to the limit with him obviously and we need to get him out of there for a while. Let his head settle down a bit. The best thing that I saw was that he came in as a wide receiver and made a great catch for us, so he didn’t let that one play (affect him). I know coach (Andy Reid) talked about that too, but that was really impressive to me.”
In hindsight, Toub feels he overloaded the rookie. He took full responsibility for his struggles as a punt returner.
“It’s easy to say now that we probably put too much on his plate,” Toub said. “And that’s my fault. I had him out there. I have all the confidence in the world in the kid. I just felt like he was over the hump. . . He had a great opportunity (in Week 12), he just took his eyes off that ball. It was unfortunate.”
Right now, it’s about dialing things back for Moore and allowing him to build up his confidence again. Whether that happens quickly and they go back to him again this season remains to be seen.
“Over my 22 years, I’ve developed a lot of guys,” Toub said. “I believe that Skyy Moore has that ability — that innate ability to make somebody miss. He’s a good catcher of the football. I just think we’ve cracked his confidence a little bit. It’s hard back there and I’ve talked about this before, how hard it is to play punt returner in the NFL. He just had some bad things happen to him and he just needs some time here to heal it up.”
Toub is hopeful that Moore’s issues fielding the football can be remedied. He recalled that one of the best players that he ever coached also wasn’t great at fielding punt returns either.
“I’ll tell you what, Devin Hester wasn’t a great fielder of balls,” Toub said. “When he did catch the ball. . . he made so many plays that the risk was worth the reward. . . we just need to get those explosive plays from Skyy (Moore) for people to have patience enough to deal with it. People drop punts all over the league, it has just happened too many times for Skyy.”
As for his philosophy on punt and kick returns, Toub says that even though the league is changing and making it harder than ever to get kick and punt returns, they’re not going to change their strategy in Kansas City.
“We don’t take it out if it’s 5-8 yards deep. We’re not doing anything crazy back there right now,” Toub said. “If they kick it to us, we’re going to return it. We have no choice.”
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