Kansas City Chiefs' new RB hope Charcandrick West is one of a kind

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 15, 2015 at 1:22 AM
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KANSAS CITY -- When Charcandrick West was a little used backup, he was notable if only for his unusual name.

Now that it appears he will be first in line to try to fill the shoes of the injured running back Jamaal Charles, it was a big question on Wednesday as the Chiefs began preparations for Sunday's game in Minnesota:

"Where did your parents come up with your first name?" West was asked.

Said West: "Man, if only I knew. How many Charcandricks do you know in the world? I'm probably the only Charcandrick in the world. It's nice to be something."

The Chiefs hope West can be something on the field beyond his unique name in the aftermath of losing Charles for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee.

The 5-10, 205-pound West joined the Chiefs as an undrafted rookie before the 2014 season, spent time on the Kansas City practice squad and then made the 53-man roster for the 2015 preseason.

His career statistics in the NFL are 14 runs/receptions for 57 yards, hardly a resume that reveals a runner capable of filling the shoes of four-time Pro Bowler Charles.

But Andy Reid isn't expecting West to do that; the Chiefs head coach is looking at a running back-by-committee with West, Knile Davis and Spencer Ware.

"We have a little bit of a committee thing going there," Reid said. "I can't tell which one is going to start and not start. There is a chance they'll all play. We'll figure all that out through the week."

The Chiefs worked out a number of veteran NFL running backs, including Ben Tate (51 games with Houston, Cleveland, Minnesota, Pittsburgh) and Pierre Thomas (105 games with New Orleans.)

Ultimately they decided to fill the roster hole in the backfield with Ware, a 5-10, 229-pound second-year player out of LSU. He was selected by Seattle in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but did not make the Seahawks regular-season roster.

"I think he's a good football player," Reid said. "He can serve a dual role for you, plus he's been a good special teams player for us in preseason. We thought knowing what he knows and the quality of the player and person, we thought it was the best thing to do."

Davis was selected in the third-round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Chiefs and was the without question backup to Charles in the last two seasons. But West jumped ahead of Davis early in this season and the opportunities for the University of Arkansas product have been few and far between in the Chiefs offense.

Reid has dealt with running back-by-committee before in his 17 seasons as an NFL head coach.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East and finished with a 12-4 record in the 2003 season, with the running work divided between Correll Buckhalter (126 carries), Brian Westbrook (117) and Duce Staley (96).

The task in his role with the offense and then acting as play caller on game day is not just trying to replace the production of Charles, but doing that with three backs.

"You play to their strengths and give them opportunities to show," Reid said. "They all need to work together and they all need to do their thing. Right now, it's about being a productive offense. We have guys that are capable of doing that."

The Chiefs view West as closer to Charles in style and skills, with good vision and speed. Davis, at 5-10 and 227 pounds, is more of a downhill, one-cut runner relying on power, and Ware has the ability to play both halfback and fullback.

If he gets the bulk of the action and he's successful, one man will draw attention. Did he ever ask his parents the origins of his first name?

"Nah, I was just trying to learn how to spell it," Charcandrick West said.

SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting between these teams, and the Chiefs have a 6-4 edge, including a victory in the most recent game in 2011, when Kansas City posted a 22-17 victory. The Chiefs' last victory in the Twin Cities came in 1996 at the Metrodome when they grabbed a 21-6 decision. The Chiefs have won two in a row and four of the last five. They are 2-3 in Minnesota and are making their first appearance at TCF Bank Stadium.

GAME PLAN: How does a team replace its best offensive player? That's the chore the Chiefs face against Minnesota without running back Jamaal Charles. Next to outside linebacker Justin Houston, there has been no more valuable member of the roster than Charles in the Andy Reid Era and they will be without him for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee. It's Reid's job to not only find a way for his offense to be productive, but make sure his club has the mental toughness to put the absence of Charles behind. That's not something the Chiefs were able to do in losing to Chicago. Reid loves the passing game, but the veteran head coach knows he must have a hint of the run game or the Vikings will tee-off against quarterback Alex Smith with the pass rush. Defensively, the Chiefs must find a way to deal with Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson as a runner and receiver. In recent weeks, coordinator Bob Sutton's defense has been erratic, especially in the fourth quarter.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

--Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston vs. Vikings right tackle T.J. Clemmings,

Without a sack for three games, this matchup would seem to have Houston drooling as the defending NFL sack champion goes against a fourth-round draft choice appearing in his fifth NFL game. The key for Houston will be the K.C. defense forcing Minnesota into throwing situations, which means stopping running back Adrian Peterson. That type of duty also falls to Houston, on the strong-side edge.

--Chiefs running game vs. Vikings linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Chad Greenway.

Although they will not have the engine of their offense because of the season-ending knee injury sustained by Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs must still find a way to run the ball. No matter who among his options coach Andy Reid calls on -- Charcandrick West, Knile Davis or Spencer Ware - there must be some production. To do that, the K.C. offensive line must get to the second level, where the Vikings' talented linebackers live. Barr is Minnesota's leading tackler and has a sack and an interception. Rookie Kendricks has shown big play potential and he has a sack, while Greenway has a 91-yard interception return for a touchdown.

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