“I’m definitely comfortable in getting 15 touches,” McCluster said. “If it’s 20, then it’s 20. I just want to go out there whether it’s as a returner, running back or receiver and just give my best and do what I can for this team.”
There are now more carries to go around, but don’t expect McCluster’s workload to expand much beyond last Sunday’s total in the immediate future.
“He’s going to have a role and I think within reason, you’re going to have to keep that (workload) in check a little bit, which I’ve talked about a lot, because he’s going to get some catches, he’s going to get some runs,” head coach Todd Haley said.
Heading into Detroit, McCluster was coming off a career-high 13 total touches in the season opener at Buffalo (4 rushes, 5 receptions, 4 returns). After performing well during the preseason as a running back, the Chiefs wanted to get McCluster more involved in the offensive plan this season.
The workload against Buffalo mirrored Haley’s preseason expectations of getting McCluster between 8 and 10 offensive touches per game, not including special teams snaps.
“It definitely feels better to get into a flow and to get into a groove early,” McCluster said. “l love that they give me the opportunity week-in and week-out to show what I can do and now it’s time to capitalize on it.”
Unfortunately, fumbles have come along with the increased touches. McCluster has two fumbles in as many games this season and now has six fumbles in 13 career appearances. He’s currently fumbling at a rate of once every 17.67 touches.
“You’ve got a guy that’s a talented player that is trying to make a difference and that’s part of being a smart player – knowing when to say to say when; knowing what you are and what your role is; and you can’t take everybody on every play,” Haley said. “That’s something you love about Dexter but at the same time, it’s something he needs to and will learn and I believe he’s learning it, right now it’s been under fire and the hard way, but he’s a great kid that wants to be part of the solution here.
“It’s the last four inches to the ground,” McCluster said of the fumbles. “Falling to the ground you’ve got to make sure you put both hands on the ball trying to stretch out for the extra inch. It’s not a problem of a holding the ball fumble, it’s just those last four inches when I’m not down yet.”
Dexter McCluster’s Workload with Chiefs
McClain Ready, But Still A Fullback
After not hearing his number called in the season opener, Le’Ron McClain saw both his snap total and carry total increase following Charles’ injury. He’s likely to see an increased role as a runner going forward, but is still the Chiefs primary blocker for the time being.
“Everything has been the same,” McClain said. “I just got the game plan today and was out there at fullback doing my thing. I guess I’ll see throughout the week.”
In a similar situation with the Ravens in 2008, McClain took on a heavier workload when RB Willis McGahee battled through and injury-plagued season.
“I started at fullback that year and I remember coach telling me that I was going to get about 10 carries that (first) game. It ended up being (19). I just took that with me the whole season and continued to get better each day.”
McClain led Baltimore with 902 yards that season, including a career-best 22 carries for 139 yards against Dallas. His success as a ball carrier followed with an internal campaign for more carries.
“I put all of the ‘McClain for RB’ stuff behind me when I signed with the Chiefs,” McClain said.
Campaign or not, he’s in line to get more work going forward.
“I think you’ll see more and more of him, number one as a fullback, but he’s a versatile guy – he’s a good pass catcher, he’s a talented runner and he’s a good blocker,” Haley said.
An encouraging light shined through the dark cloud that is the Chiefs injury situation when
Hali was injured midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, sought on-field medical attention and didn’t return. He watched the remaining seven minutes of action at Ford Field from the Chiefs bench with an ice pack attached to his injured ankle.
He also shed the bulky cast he’d been wearing over the past few weeks and replaced it with a smaller brace.
“I don’t want to get into (specifics),” Haley said. “You guys are out there [at practice] and I think you see him. He’s working hard and he’s going to have to get into this mix fast and we’re all excited about him getting back. Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.”
Chiefs Injury Report
WR Jonathan Baldwin – Limited Participation in Practice (Thumb)
OLB Tamba Hali – Full Participation in Practice (Ankle)
In San Diego, a load of big names were limited or held out of practice according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Among those on the sideline included TE Antonio Gates, WR Malcom Floyd, SS Bob Sanders, RB Mike Tolbert and DE Corey Liuget.
Chargers Injury Report
DE Luis Castillo - Did Not Participate in Practice (Tibia)
WR Malcom Floyd - Did Not Participate in Practice (Groin)
TE Antonio Gates - Did Not Participate in Practice (Foot)
DE Corey Liuget - Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)
ILB Jonas Mouton - Did Not Participate in Practice (Shoulder)
S Bob Sanders - Did Not Participate in Practice (Knee)
RB Mike Tolbert - Did Not Participate in Practice (Calf)