Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

December 06, 2018 at 1:12 am.

–Many wonder how the Chiefs offense may change with Spencer Ware returning as the featured running back in the wake of the sudden departure of Kareem Hunt, but Ware says his past body of work says everything you need to know.

“My film is my resume,” Ware said. “You see what I do on film for the time that I’ve been here in Kansas City. I’ll continue to play my type of ball.”

Ware’s return to the starting lineup marks a stunning comeback for the team’s leading rusher in 2016. He rushed for 921 yards that season and added another 447 yards receiving. He entered the 2017 as the incumbent with rookie Hunt, a third-round draft pick, his likely backup.

But a devastating knee injury during a preseason game in Seattle wiped away his season before it began. Ware damaged the posterolateral corner of his right knee, often called the “dark corner” of the knee. The injury tore his posterior cruciate ligament and damaged other ligaments and tendons in the knee. Comebacks from the injury are few and far between. Head coach Andy Reid confessed doubts to whether Ware would play again.

“He told me all the time he was going to make it back,” Reid said. “But I think once he got out there where he was able to cut on it and really put significant weight on it and then plant and go. And then the next step was getting hit and continuing to push through that without hesitation. I’ll probably tell you the first time I saw him, those two things when he cut and got hit, would be the one.”

Ware set benchmarks for himself this season, and thus far he’s met them all. He didn’t set a goal of getting back to 100 percent, but rather set his sights on getting better. Back in the No. 1 role, he feels the same in the offense as he did two seasons ago.

“Nothing’s changed,” he said. “Make big plays and score touchdowns. Win games. Win games. Second effort goes a long way. Just fight for one another.”

Ware spent the first 12 games of the season in a backup role, picking up 22 carries for 167 yards. He planned to back up Hunt again against Oakland, picking up about 10 percent of the first-team snaps during practice. He wound up with 14 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.

The only challenge against the Raiders, he explained, was building up his endurance.

“Just getting pounded and pounded throughout the course of the game, 60 minutes,” Ware said. “I haven’t done that in a while. That was the big adjustment.”

This week, Ware goes into practice knowing he will see the majority of work in the backfield.

“That’ll help,” Reid said. “He rotates in there anyways, even before. The majority of them will help.

Longtime teammate Charcandrick West, who rejoined the club this week, said Ware’s journey back from the injury to the starting lineup serves as inspiration.

“A lot of people wiped him off the map because of injury,” West said. “But he worked hard, he had guys, a great training staff, a great team, a great support system and now he’s back starting. Another wonderful story of never give up.”

–When the Chiefs released running back Charcandrick West in August to allow him a chance to catch on with another team, he never truly believed he would get a chance back with his old team.

“It was a dream but I guess not this year,” West said. “I didn’t think I’d be back this year. It’s a blessing, a blessing in disguise.”

West found himself pondering retirement and writing a book about this careeer when the Chiefs released Kareem Hunt on Friday.

“It took some time, they had things to work through,” he said. “But when I got that call, it was a blessing to see a 913, 816 number calling my phone.”

Shortly after his release in August, West signed on with the New York Jets. The club released him before the start of the season. West then went on a series of workouts for various teams but nothing come of the tryouts. He admits feeling frustrated.

“Just keep working out, keep working out, working out, working out and not getting the results that I wanted,” West said. “But I think there’s worse things in life than people telling me no or I can’t do this or I can’t do that. I’m still standing here, so it’s just motivation to me.”

West spent the past four seasons with the Chiefs, rushing for 999 yards and adding another 552 receiving yards. He led the club in rushing with 634 yards in 2015 after stepping into the lineup for injured starter Jamaal Charles.

Head coach Andy Reid says West can add a smiling face and positive energy to the club’s locker room.

“Big time energy giver,” Reid said. “That’s what he does. He can play, too. I don’t want to slight him on that. He has always been an energy guy and always comes to work with a smile on his face, loves to practice. All those intangible things, he’s got.”

West built a close relationship with fellow running back Spencer Ware during their time with the Chiefs, and Ware is happy to see his friend back in the fold.

“It’s good to see him back and he seems ready,” Ware said. “Same type of person that he was before he left, so it’s good to have him back in the locker room.”

The Chiefs worked out West along with former Denver running back C.J. Anderson earlier this week. The personality West brings back to the team played a factor in his Kansas City reunion, Reid said.

“It didn’t hurt,” Reid said. “But you are looking at a good football player too that understands our protections and the runs and so on. That was also a big part of it.”

During training camp, West thought the team’s offense would be good, but nothing like the success it’s experienced through a 10-2 start. He kept close tabs on the team watching from his home in Dallas.

“This is my family, of course I watch and cheer these guys on, tell them good game, congrats,” West said. “You can see on Twitter sometimes I get into it when people are talking about them. But this is my family, it’s always going to be a family.”

West understands why he’s back with the Chiefs, and he relishes the opportunity to reclaim his role as a player and the team’s biggest cheerleader on the bench.

“Man, anything they need me to do,” West said. “If it’s a smile, a touchdown, a first down, a kickoff return, a kickoff. I’m just happy to be here.”

–Few NFL coaches have a history tree with more branches than Andy Reid, with 10 former assistants under the Chiefs coach going on to NFL head coaching jobs of their own, including the coach on the opposing sideline, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

“I think he’s got to be the best probably there ever has been in terms of mentoring coaches to become head coaches,” said Harbaugh, who spent nine seasons on Reid’s coaching staff in Philadelphia.

Former Eagles coach Ray Rhodes hired Harbaugh as special teams coordinator in 1998. Rhodes and Reid worked together in Green Bay, and Rhodes recommended keeping Harbaugh. Reid knew Harbaugh’s father Jack, a former college head coach.

“And so, with all those things, I found out for myself that he’s a phenomenal coach,” Reid said. “I have a ton of respect for him.”

Harbaugh believes Reid’s success as both a coach and a mentor starts with his sense of self. Reid works tirelessly, but has convictions in his philosophy, whether it’s his personal beliefs or his coaching mantra.

“He’s great at what he does, he’s got a unique style and he doesn’t try to be anything or do anything that’s not perfectly tuned into who he is and what he believes,” Harbaugh said.

Last year Reid praised quarterback Alex Smith for mentoring Patrick Mahomes by showing him the ropes and teaching him everything he knew. He said Smith didn’t hold anything back, instead sharing as much wisdom as he could with the young quarterback.

Perhaps Smith picked that up to Reid, who did the same thing with Harbaugh when they started working together nearly 20 years ago.

“He’s not afraid to share them with you, why he does things or how he does things or what his thinking is,” Harbaugh said.

Teaching, whether it’s players or coaches, is what keeps Reid in the game. Harbaugh recalls Reid keeping a card on his desk that reads, “Don’t Judge.” Reid said he still keeps that card on his desk as a reminder.

“Are you going to sit there and judge, or are you going to teach?” Reid explained. “I want to teach, and so that’s what I feel like I’m here for, is to do that. And then, whatever player is given to me, I’m going to try to do that to the best of my ability and not get caught up in all the nonsense of judging.”

That more than anything may explain why former assistants such as Harbaugh have achieved such great success as head coaches.

“I’m just very grateful for the relationship and to have spent the time there in Philly with him,” Harbaugh said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7.03 – The number of yards the Chiefs average per play on offense. No NFL team has averaged more than 7 yards per play over the course of an entire season since before 1950. The Ravens offer the toughest test yet for the Chiefs offense, yielding an NFL-best 4.62 yards per play this season.