Kansas City Chiefs: Chad Hall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs hardly missed Dexter McCluster last week when they scored 56 points in a lopsided win against the Oakland Raiders. That doesn’t mean they won’t look forward to having back their slot receiver and punt return specialist in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs signaled Thursday that McCluster would be available to play against the Colts when they released his replacement, Chad Hall. They re-signed defensive lineman Jerrell Powe to take Hall’s spot on the roster.

McCluster missed the Oakland game after a cut on his ankle became infected and swelled. He said he received the cut while returning a punt for a touchdown in the previous Sunday’s game at Washington.

[+] EnlargeDexter McCluster
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsGetting Dexter McCluster back in the lineup is something the Chiefs and their fans will celebrate.
“Adrenaline took over," McCluster said. “It was just a small cut. I took a shower, bandaged it up, kept moving. Something must have crept in there underneath all that."

He practiced last week on Wednesday as normal, but that’s when the ankle swelled on him. He had the wound cleaned out later in the week, but wasn’t able to return on time to play against the Raiders.

“This is a first for me," he said. “You get those small cuts every day. It’s just something that kind of popped up on me, but we caught it early. Doctors did the (procedure to clean the wound), and I’ve been taking positive steps forward after that.

“I’m going to keep treating it. I’m going to keep doing whatever I have to do off the field to get back on the field."

Initially, the Chiefs feared McCluster’s infection might be MRSA, which is resistant to antibiotics. Tests later ruled that out, and the Chiefs were able to treat the infection.

“I had no idea what that was," McCluster said, referring to MRSA. “My mom, she was calling me (about that). We didn’t know what it was (at first). Thank God it wasn’t. Something that small, a cut I get every day in this sport. I took it very serious. I wanted to make sure it didn’t move, didn’t spread, didn’t affect my body as a whole. They did a great job of going in and finding out what it was."

The Chiefs scored seven offensive touchdowns against the Raiders without McCluster, their third leading receiver. Jamaal Charles scored five of them, four on passes.

The Chiefs attacked the Raiders repeatedly with the screen pass, but offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said none of those passes would have gone to McCluster had he been in the lineup.

“Most of that was designed for the tailback," Pederson said.

McCluster has more impact for the Chiefs as a punt returner. He has scored twice on returns this season.

“Getting Dexter back is big," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “He’s a threat, obviously, with the two touchdowns. He saves field position catching all of those short kicks. He catches the deep ones. Obviously, the threat that he’s going to catch it every time, that creates a lot of pressure on the punt team as well."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs slot receiver and punt returner Dexter McCluster missed practice Thursday and Friday because of an infection in his ankle. And Saturday, McCluster was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

McCluster cut his ankle in Sunday's game against the Redskins in Washington. He complained of a swollen ankle after participating in practice Wednesday. After structural damage was ruled out, McCluster had a procedure on the ankle in which the wound was opened and cleaned out.

The Chiefs said tests ruled out MRSA.

McCluster is third on the Chiefs with 46 receptions, but he has had a bigger impact this season as a punt returner. He has two returns for touchdowns this season, including one for 74 yards against Washington last week.

Junior Hemingway and Chad Hall will split McCluster's snaps as a slot receiver. Hemingway has eight catches and two touchdowns and Hall one catch this season.

The Chiefs will use Hall or Quintin Demps to return punts. Neither has returned a punt this season.

Third time might be charm for Hall

December, 13, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Wide receiver Chad Hall had little to do during his first two tours with the Kansas Chiefs this season. As their sixth and last wide receiver, he was giving the Chiefs little, a fact they acknowledged by releasing him twice.

Things could change this time around for Hall, who rejoined the Chiefs Friday for the third time. Hall could wind up returning punts on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders instead of Dexter McCluster. McCluster did not practice on Thursday because of a sore ankle.

Hall could also get some of the snaps as the slot receiver that normally would have gone to McCluster. Junior Hemingway's playing time could also be increased if McCluster doesn't play against the Raiders.

To clear roster room for Hall, the Chiefs released defensive lineman Jerrell Powe.

Here's one way to cure dropped passes

December, 5, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If the Kansas City Chiefs are serious about reducing their number of dropped passes, as they should be, I have an idea for them: play Junior Hemingway more at wide receiver.

Hemingway is Kansas City's most reliable receiver when it comes to catching the ball. According to the insightful numbers from Pro Football Focus, Hemingway has caught all seven of the catchable passes thrown his way by quarterback Alex Smith. Not one dropped pass.

Hemingway will certainly drop a pass the more the ball heads his way. But the Chiefs are still going to be ahead playing Hemingway, who can play any of the receiving positions, giving the Chiefs no excuse not to find more playing time for him.

"We’re throwing a lot at him,'' offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "We’re putting him in different spots. We’re giving him the flanker spot, we’re giving him the slot spot and we’re giving him the split end spot. He’s done a nice job of handling that.''

Among the Chiefs' other wide receivers, seldom used Chad Hall also hasn't dropped a pass but he's had only one catchable ball thrown his way. Dexter McCluster has four drops, or 8.7 percent of the catchable passes thrown his way. Dwayne Bowe has five drops (10 percent), Donnie Avery 5 (12.82 percent) and A.J. Jenkins 2 (28.57 percent).

Avery dropped two deep passes and Jenkins one in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos. If they had made those catches, it's possible that today we're all talking about how Smith outgunned Peyton Manning and, more importantly, whether the Chiefs would hold on to first place in the AFC West after this Sunday's game against the Redskins in Washington.

Avery and Jenkins are the fastest of the Chiefs' receivers and that deep speed, something Hemingway doesn't have, is important. The Chiefs have to be careful in taking that off their field.

Hemingway might not get open as often. But when he does he will catch the ball, and what good is getting open if you can't do that?

No easy answers if Avery’s out

October, 7, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Donnie Avery, the most productive wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs this season, had to prematurely leave Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans because a shoulder bruise made it difficult for him to raise his hand above his head.

The Chiefs had no clarity Monday as to whether Avery would be available for this week’s game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Replacing Avery and his 19-yards-per-catch average would be a problem for the Chiefs.

They used a similarly fast player, A.J. Jenkins, in the second half against the Titans. Jenkins had the ball thrown his way one time but he didn’t make the catch. He has one reception this season for a measly six yards.

A better solution might be Chad Hall, acquired off waivers from the 49ers at the end of the preseason. Hall is only 5-foot-8 and 187 pounds, so he’s better suited to playing in the slot.

But the Chiefs seem to think he and a player with similar size, Dexter McCluster, work well together in the same lineup. The Chiefs used Hall a lot early in the Tennessee game and threw to him four times, but he caught just one pass for nine yards.

“Both he and (McCluster) are a little bit undersized,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “They’re smaller guys but they’ve got great quickness and we tried to utilize both at the same time.’’

Another option is Junior Hemingway, who has been productive in limited playing time. The problem with Hemingway is that he, paired with Dwayne Bowe, leaves the Chiefs without much speed at wide receiver.

That’s why Hall, or even Jenkins, would be a better choice for the Chiefs if Avery can’t play against Oakland.