This makes sense for a team that uses backs as a committee. But how much work can the other four guys get when Jamaal Charles is going to be on the field most of the time?
“Use them,’’ coach Andy Reid said when asked what he planned to do with five backs. “You want to keep the best players. This is [general manager John Dorsey] and how he operates, which is the right way to do things, You keep the guys you feel are the best 53. We felt the four [backups] were that and we roll from there.’’
Maybe there's some method to this madness. De'Anthony Thomas might get more work as a receiver than out of the backfield. Knile Davis looks like only a partial player. He still doesn't look comfortable as a receiver or pass blocker.
The Chiefs like Cyrus Gray as a special-teams player. Then there's Joe McKnight, who got a late start at training camp because of a sore knee. Other than Charles, McKnight might be the most complete back the Chiefs have.
“We feel like he’s just coming around and getting through the camp legs,’’ Reid said. “Actually, the Green Bay game was the first sign he felt better. We know how talented he is. He’s a good kickoff return guy. He’s actually played nickel for [defensive coordinator Bob Sutton] with the Jets on the defensive side, and he’s a good running back.’’
McKnight might be insurance in case of a Charles injury. Davis would get his share of work, too, but McKnight is the one of these backs most like Charles.
Throw in McKnight's ability as a kick returner and it's obvious he has some value. But that doesn't change the fact these are all bit players as long as Charles is in the lineup.
So the Chiefs might have been better served by giving one of these extra roster spots to a cornerback like DeMarcus Van Dyke. He has a high ankle sprain and the season is already over for him because the Chiefs put him on injured reserve.
But he played well in the preseason, and the Chiefs still need help at corner. They could have afforded to wait for him to return to health.
It's too late for that now and the Chiefs are stuck with a bunch of extra running backs they hope they never have to use.