Chiefs WR Justin Watson, CB Trent McDuffie latest to get crack at punt returner job

#Chiefs ST coach Dave Toub says Justin Watson and Trent McDuffie are in consideration at punt returner while Kadarius Toney is hurt and things settle down for Skyy Moore.

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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Who will be Chiefs’ punt returner moving forward?

#Chiefs HC Andy Reid spoke on Skyy Moore, Justin Watson and the punt returner situation moving forward.

One of the biggest problem areas for the Kansas City Chiefs this season has been finding consistency at the punt returner position.

Part of the issue has been injuries, but another part of it has been the coaching staff’s insistence on using Skyy Moore as a punt returner. He’s been learning the position on the fly and trying to battle through his struggles. His muffed punt against the Colts in Week 3 proved to be extremely costly. He’s had two muffed punts since, including the most recent one in Week 12 against the Rams.

On Monday, Chiefs HC Andy Reid took responsibility for the latest gaffe.

“We’ve kinda put Skyy (Moore) in and we were trying to bring him along with the punt return stuff, but he had a hiccup again yesterday,” Reid said. “We’ll take that responsibility as a coaching staff. I was proud of him for stepping up, he ended up with five receptions. He had the one right after that. He’s a competitive kid and he was crushed after the other (muffed punt), but listen that’s my responsibility. So I’ll take that. We’ll see where we go forward here with the punt return. Again, I was proud of him.”

During the game, the Chiefs replaced Moore with Justin Watson, who also played the most offensive snaps of any receiver in Week 12. Asked about Watson’s performance and who the team might go to in place of Moore while Mecole Hardman and Kadarius Toney are injured, Reid suggested that Watson could be the guy.

“Justin (Watson), he looked like he caught the ball fairly easy back there and comfortable,” Reid said. “I haven’t talked to (Dave) Toub about it yet. We’ll see where we go with it moving forward, but he seemed to be a pretty good catcher back there.”

It stands to reason that Watson could see less work on offense moving forward, taking up punt return duties until either Toney or Hardman returns. JuJu Smith-Schuster returning healthy in Week 12 gives them the flexibility to do that.

All-in-all the special teams struggles at punt returner and in other units appear to be an unintended consequence of the team’s youth movement this season.

“We’re playing a number of young guys,” Reid said. “We’re anticipating things will get better. We’ve gotten better in a number of areas. So, we’ll just keep working through it. As far as the returner thing goes, I’ve been through that before. Again, we’re not going to — I’m not going to put that on Skyy (Moore). We’ve asked him to learn that and go in there and do it. We gave him a second chance to do it, it didn’t work out as we hoped.”

No matter who they end up going with at punt returner, Reid is confident they’ll see improvement there moving forward. He also has confidence that Dave Toub and the rest of the coaching staff will get the decision right.

“We’ll figure it out,” Reid said. “We’ll get it right. Dave (Toub) is as good as there is. We’ll get things straightened out there.”

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5 final takeaways from Chargers’ loss to Chiefs

Before switching gears to this weekend’s matchup with the Cardinals, here are the final takeaways from the Chargers’ loss to the Chiefs.

The Chargers lost to the Chiefs on Sunday night.

Before switching gears to this weekend’s matchup with the Cardinals, here are my final takeaways from the divisional bout.


Fantasy Football: 10 utilization stats to know from Week 2

Here are the utilization stats you should know from Week 2 of the NFL season.

We now have a two-game sample size of fantasy football data to work with from the 2022 NFL season.

It’s still a relatively small sample size, but trends are starting.

Before you make any roster cuts or waiver claims for Week 3, here are 10 utilization notes to know following Week 2.

7 takeaways from Chargers’ Week 2 loss to Chiefs

Looking at the biggest storylines from the Chargers’ Week 2 loss to the Chiefs.

The Chargers were outlasted by the Chiefs on Thursday night, 27-24.

A day after Los Angeles’ loss, here are my takeaways:

How a play with 2020 Bucs helped Chiefs’ Justin Watson’s 41-yard touchdown happen

#Chiefs WR Justin Watson used his experience playing the #Chargers two years ago with the #Bucs to set up his 41-yard touchdown.

There was a lot that went into Kansas City Chiefs WR Justin Watson’s touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2.

First, Watson felt lucky to even be playing in the game. He was listed on the injury report this week with a chest injury and praised Chiefs athletic trainer Tiffany Morton for getting him right to play. Second, Mecole Hardman had left the field of play temporarily with an ankle injury. Watson wasn’t even supposed to be on the field for that play.

There was also something else to it.

“We talked about that route in the receiver room – I wanted that route,” Watson said. “Never want to see one of our receivers go down but (I) just want to give them the confidence that if they do have to take a play off the field that I am going to come in and do my job.”

Why did Watson want that specific route and why were they talking about it in the receiver room? Over 700 days ago, Watson was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They played the Chargers in Week 4. Watson was targeted four times by Tom Brady and on an unfortunate play, he noticed a tendency of the Chargers’ corners.

“Two years ago, I played the Chargers, and they were sitting on my out routes – sitting on my out routes,” Watson said. “In that game, I wanted to run a double move – out and up – and it didn’t get done and they ended up taking (an out route) for a pick-six.” 

With the opportunity to play the Chargers again, Watson suddenly had his shot at redemption and he didn’t intend to miss. Even with a different coaching staff in Los Angeles, he saw the same look and knew that the corners would be biting on those out routes. It was the perfect time to unleash the double move.

“So that’s a play that I have thought about a lot over the last two years and I saw the same look – the same type of defense,” Watson explained. “I just knew how to run it to win and Pat (Mahomes) threw a great ball obviously a great result.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t the only game-changing play that came from knowing the Chargers’ tendencies. As Watson said, there’s a lot of work that goes into these moments. From studying film to getting the timing down with your quarterback.

“There’s been a lot – a lot — of work from Texas with Pat (Mahomes) from the offseason to go in and make that catch,” he said. “I’m just glad to see the work show.”

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Everything to know from Chargers’ 27-24 loss to Chiefs

Highlighting everything notable from the Chargers’ Week 2 loss to the Chiefs.

The Chargers were downed by the Chiefs in another thrilling divisional showdown, 27-24.

To recap the game, here is everything to know.

Justin Watson’s first catch as Chief goes for 6 points

Patrick Mahomes found a new touchdown target in Justin Watson

Justin Watson made his first catch as a Kansas City Chief count on Thursday as he hauled in a Patrick Mahomes pass in the third quarter for 41 yards and a TD.

Watson, a Penn grad no less, played his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He had one target but no receptions in the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

In the third quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers, Watson made the grab and was quickly in the end zone.

After the PAT, the Chargers led, 17-14.

Justin Watson strengthens case for Chiefs’ roster in preseason opener

Justin Watson already had a strong case to make the #Chiefs’ 53-man roster. After preseason Week 1, that case has only strengthened.

For many NFL players, the preseason is about making your case to make the 53-man roster. For Kansas City Chiefs WR Justin Watson, it was an opportunity to showcase all of the hard work he’d been putting in at training camp and during the offseason.

A former fifth-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, the 26-year-old Watson has been a bit of a surprise this offseason. When Watson showed up for offseason workouts in Texas, his quarterback was surprised by his speed. The story has been the same at St. Joseph for training camp, where Watson has continued to have strong showings.

“Since I’ve got here it’s been fun learning this offense,” Watson told reporters after the game “I’ve done a lot of good things in practice, but you just want to show up in the game. It’s the first time that it’s on TV, that everyone is seeing it all across the league. I was happy to go out there and put up a good performance. The first time that fans were seeing it — anyone that wasn’t able to come to St. Joe’s. Just anytime you put that Chiefs jersey on, you want to represent it well and play well. I was happy that we could do that today.”

The former University of Pennsylvania star represented the jersey very well against the Bears. He recorded five receptions on six targets for 45 yards and a score. It was the top performance by a Chiefs receiver on the day.

The touchdown came on a play that was a bit of a risk from quarterback Shane Buechele. Patrick Mahomes was saying on the sideline that Buechele should take the underneath route and just move the sticks. Instead, Buechele gave Watson a shot to make a play with a window throw on a risky down-and-distance.

“Big-time props to Shane (Buechele),” Watson said of the play. “We had a call, it was third-and-4 and we had two five-yard routes on the outside, but Shane saw it was two-high, split safeties, and saw that void in the middle there, so he yelled out to me for me to run that post route, kind of audibled it. So like you said, take a shot on third-and-4 into the endzone when you have two five-yard routes underneath. It takes some moxie, but man, he delivered a strike. Great play, great adjustment, and great all-around play by Shane.”

Watson didn’t even know that he’d be in the position to make such a play or have such a performance on Sunday. The plan for the game was really flexible, which is something he has a sense he’ll have to get used to, should he make the 53-man roster.

“No, I wasn’t sure,” Watson said. “We had a feel for, this was going to be the first 15 plays. We weren’t sure how many plays that first group was going to get at receiver. So, just kind of being fluid, that’s probably what this year will be for me. Supporting those guys — MVS (Marquez Valdes-Scantling), Juju (Smith-Schuster), Mecole (Hardman) — just anytime my number is called on. Be there, be in the right spot and make a catch. I feel like at this point, you can put me in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter. We could line up in St. Joe’s, in Chicago, anywhere, anytime — I’m ready to make a play for these guys at quarterback.”

The willingness and ability to come in off the bench and make plays on offense at a moment’s notice should increase Watson’s value. When you consider that he also factors in as a multi-phase special teamer, his case to make the roster is as strong as ever. With four practices at training camp and two preseason games left to go, all he has to prove is that he can keep it up.

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Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes throwing with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson in Texas

The work never stops for #Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and his receivers.

We’re just over a week away from rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reporting to Kansas City Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri on July 22nd. With the most important portion of the offseason rapidly approaching, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and his receivers have resumed training down in Texas.

After the team’s mandatory minicamp broke, Mahomes got some extra throwing in with rookie WR Skyy Moore in late June. That session broke with players taking some personal time for the 4th of July holiday. Mahomes just finished up making an appearance at the American Century Championship, but he is already back working with a new set of receivers.

Chiefs wideouts Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson were spotted catching passes from Mahomes and backup QB Shane Buechele down in Texas. The Chiefs’ Instagram account shared photos on their story of the receivers catching passes. The photos were taken by Heather Smith, who regularly photographs the players who are training with APEC’s Bobby Stroupe.

We also know that Mahomes planned to have some players down in Texas for throwing sessions between mandatory minicamp and training camp.

“Yeah, I’ll have some guys down there,” Mahomes said following mandatory minicamp. “Luckily enough, some of those guys already live in Texas, and we’ll be working out, throwing. You don’t want to do too much going into training camp but just trying to keep everybody fresh, keep everybody working. We’ll have some dates down there, and I’m sure we’ll have some guys come through.”

Both Valdes-Scantling and Watson have been earning some attention from the local media in Kansas City as well as the national media. Valdes-Scantling and Watson were among some of the earliest players to work with Mahomes and build chemistry with him during the first phase of the offseason program.

It should come as no surprise to see these two working with Mahomes now. This work will give them an opportunity to get themselves prepared to carry over their early success and momentum into training camp.

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