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Chiefs look ahead following RB Kareem Hunt's release

By
The Sports Xchange
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs must move forward without running back Kareem Hunt, and while head coach Andy Reid expressed concern for his former player, he also made it clear he stood by the team's decision to release Hunt on Friday.

"You guys know me well enough to know I'm not going, in some cases, I'm not going to let certain things slide," Reid told reporters during his Monday press conference. "I'm going to address them if they have to be addressed."

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The team moved swiftly in releasing Hunt after TMZ Sports posted a security video showing a physical altercation between Hunt and a 19-year-old woman in a Cleveland hotel last February. The organization maintains it had not seen the video before Friday, and that its contents contradicted the version of events as explained to them by Hunt.

Reid continued to express hope that Hunt gets help to move forward, but it will not happen in Kansas City.

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"My prayers are that everybody involved gets help there, most of all because we're all in this fraternity of our earth life here and we're all living together," Reid said. "My primary objective always is to try and make sure everybody ends up a better person and we can all live together with some kind of continuity and peace."

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That leaves the Chiefs offense heading into the final quarter of the season and a likely playoff run without a dynamic playmaker who contributed 1,202 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns during the first 11 games of the season.

Kansas City stands 10-2 and remain a game up in both the AFC West race and the battle for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

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The Chiefs front office holds no doubts Reid can keep his team focused on the bigger picture, while Reid banks on his locker room culture to carry the club through the distractions in the short run.

"We've got a strong locker room, so they stepped up on this, and guys talked also there," Reid said. "Between those two things, I think it's important that you -- it's real, so you face it and you look at it and talk about it. Communication I think is important on our football team."

Veteran Spencer Ware stepped in as the starter against Oakland on Sunday, carrying the ball 14 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Two seasons ago Ware led the club in rushing, and the team slated him as the starter in 2017 before a knee injury ended his season and cleared the path for Hunt's breakout rookie campaign. Damien Williams also chipped in 38 yards on five carries.

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"It was good to get Spence going, and then Damien too," Reid said. "Damien had some nice snaps also in there at running back."

But it was quarterback Patrick Mahomes who led the Chiefs with 52 yards rushing on a combination of option runs and scrambles. Reid says he's not afraid to let his young quarterback take off with the ball if that's what the defense encourages.

"They're going to be games when you've got to do that," Reid said. "That's what's available and you've got to take advantage of that. But I've got confidence in the other guys that they can play, the other two running backs. I don't have a problem there."

The Chiefs added another running back to the mix on Monday, bringing back free agent Charcandrick West. The 27-year-old West spent the past four seasons in Kansas City after joining the club as an undrafted free agent from Abilene Christian. The Chiefs released West during training camp allowing him to pursue other options, but he remained a free agent after a short stint with the New York Jets.

West led the Chiefs with 634 yards rushing during their 2015 playoff campaign. He stepped into the starting lineup after Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending knee injury in October.

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--WR Sammy Watkins (right foot injury) didn't play against Oakland. The Chiefs continue stressing the injury doesn't appear serious but does need rest. His availability at practice on Wednesday should indicate if he'll return to the lineup in Week 14 against Baltimore.

--LB Anthony Hitchens briefly exited Sunday's game with a quad injury, but the issue isn't expected to keep him out of the lineup in against Baltimore. Hitchens continues nursing a bruised rib as well.

--C Mitch Morse returned to the lineup against Oakland after a five-game absence with a concussion. Coach Andy Reid said Morse played well in his return, and he appears a fixture in the lineup going forward if healthy.

--LT Eric Fisher left Sunday's game for three plays after appearing to get poked in the eye. After a shoulder injury early in his career, Fisher has emerged as an ironman for the Chiefs. He's played in 81 consecutive regular-season games, the third-longest current active streak among offensive lineman following teammate Mitchell Schwartz and Tennessee's Ben Jones at 108 consecutive games played.

--S Eric Berry worked with the first team defense in a limited role in his return to practice and appears close to returning to the line. The Chiefs are targeting either this week's game against Baltimore or a Thursday night game in Week 15 against the Chargers for his season debut. Berry hasn't played this season due to recurring heel pain.

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