Damien Williams reminds Chiefs Kingdom that he’s still here
By Matt Conner
It took only a single play for Damien Williams to remind us all that he’s not only here but he’s ready to start for the Kansas City Chiefs.
For most of the Kansas City Chiefs preseason, the conversation at running back has turned to two names: Darwin Thompson and Carlos Hyde.
If you’ve somehow missed most or all of the team’s preseason chatter, the pendulum has swung toward the positive (all Thompson) and negative (all Hyde). Thompson, the team’s sixth round choice in the recent NFL Draft), looks far more ready for a serious offensive load than anyone predicted. Hyde, the team’s free agent signing from March, looks like a fading star in jeopardy of even making the team’s active roster.
Lost in the conversation has been the team’s actual starter: Damien Williams. The reason is quite simple: Williams has been missing in action due to a hamstring injury for much of training camp. Williams missed nearly two weeks overall and has watched Thompson blossom in his absence. The performance of the Utah State rookie has drawn some “starter” buzz and head coach Andy Reid has been among those watching closely.
Earlier this season, both offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Reid christened Damien Williams as the team’s starting running back heading into the preseason without any need for competition. From there, however, Reid began to back off that commitment once Williams’ injury had opened things up for Thompson to impress. The Chiefs began to talk in terms of a running back by committee approach.
Fortunately for Williams, he finally had a moment in the preseason to change the conversation back again. On Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium, Williams just needed a single play in the first quarter to remind Chiefs fans what he’s capable of.
On that wheel route, Williams shows nice hands in stride (on a perfect pass from Patrick Mahomes) and instead of a first down, he converts it into six points with a nice stutter/slow down to juke safety Jaquiski Tartt before taking off at full speed again to complete the run. The end result is 62 yards of offense in a perfectly spaced offensive play.
There it was: a single play that lit up Arrowhead and reminded everyone of the contributions he made in much the same way when it mattered most: down the stretch and into the postseason for the Chiefs just eight or nine months ago.
It’s been a good preseason to help the Chiefs sort through the talent they have at running back and maybe Damien Williams’ absence was good in that it provided a bigger spotlight for the others for a few weeks. In that way, Chiefs fans have more confidence in Thompson, less so in Hyde and, well, we’re still figuring out Darrel Williams. We were just wrong to forget about the guy atop them all.