Last season, Jamaal Charles was the unquestioned starter with Peyton Hillis backing him up. Charles came off a torn ACL and was everything Chiefs fans hoped for, rushing for 1,509 yards on 5.3 yards per carry while scoring five touchdowns.
Hillis was far less effective, amassing a disappointing 309 yards. Now Hillis is gone, replaced by third-round pick Knile Davis from Arkansas. As has been discussed repeatedly here, Davis has elite skills but a major fumbling problem and an injury history.
The third and fourth backs on the roster, Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray, are holdovers from last year entering their second seasons.
Cedar Grove High School alums Josh Jarboe and Gerald Rivers signed as undrafted free agents with NFL teams after the draft completed. Jarboe, a former Arkansas State wide receiver, signed with the Washington Redskins and Rivers, a former Ole Miss defensive end, signed with the St. Louis Rams.
A.J. Hawkins, a former M. L. King High School and Ole Miss offensive lineman, also signed as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Slaughter’s 2012 season with Notre Dame was cut short after tearing his Achilles tendon last September against Michigan State. In 2011, he started in 10 games and had 45 tackles—including four for loss. He also had an interception, forced fumble and two pass breakups. He has a career total of 98 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
“I think for us, it’s just come in every day and expect to perform at a high level, work your butt off, preparing yourself and try to have a good day, work as hard as you can every single day and just try to put good days together,” Smith said. “I think that’s what it’s all about, don’t get complacent. Don’t think, ‘I got 10 OTAs and another minicamp,’ you have the next day and a chance to get some work in and work as hard as you can that day and make as much of a stride as you can that day and come back the next day and do it again. Just get as good as you can, push yourself as hard as you can, as fast as you can.”
When the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith in March, offseason activities couldn’t begin soon enough for the team’s new QB.
“I was just excited about the opportunity,” Smith admitted. “For me, it was about getting to work. So much of being able to play quarterback starts mentally, even before you get on the field. If you can’t understand the system and grasp it, I don’t care how well you can throw it, how athletic you are, it starts there. It’s really (important) to get that down, so that you can go out on the field and execute, make plays. I’m going to work my tail off as hard as I can just to really soak up this offense and master it.”