KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs must now move forward without running back Kareem Hunt, and while head coach Andy Reid expressed concern for his former player, he also made it clear he stood by the team's decision to release Hunt on Friday.
“You guys know me well enough to know I'm not going, in some cases, I'm not going to let certain things slide,” Reid told reporters during his weekly Monday conversation with reporters. “I'm going to address them if they have to be addressed.”
The team moved swiftly in releasing Hunt after TMZ Sports posted a security video showing a physical alternation between Hunt and a 19-year-old woman in a Cleveland hotel last February. The organization maintains it had not seen the video before Friday, and that its contents contradicted the version of events as explained to them by Hunt.
Reid spoke before reports of a third alleged incident involving Hunt became public. But he continued expressing hope that Hunt gets help to move forward, but it will not happen in Kansas City.
“My prayers are that everybody involved gets help there, most of all because we're all in this fraternity of our earth life here and we're all living together,” Reid said. “My primary objective always is to try and make sure everybody ends up a better person and we can all live together with some kind of continuity and peace.”
That leaves the Chiefs offense heading into the final quarter of the season and a likely playoff run without a dynamic playmaker who contributed 1,202 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns during the first 11 games of the season.
The Chiefs front office holds no doubts Reid can keep his team focused on the bigger picture, while Reid banks on his locker room culture to carry the club through the distractions in the short run.
“We've got a strong locker room, so they stepped up on this, and guys talked also there,” Reid said. “Between those two things, I think it's important that you – it's real, so you face and you look at it and talk about it. Communication I think is important on our football team.”
Veteran Spencer Ware stepped in as the starter against Oakland on Sunday, carrying the ball 14 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Two seasons ago Ware led the club in rushing, and the team slated him as the starter in 2017 before a knee injury ended his season and cleared the path for Hunt's breakout rookie season. Damien Williams also chipped in 38 yards on five carries.
“It was good to get Spence going, and then Damien too,” Reid said. “Damien had some nice snaps also in there at running back.”
But it was quarterback Patrick Mahomes who lead the Chiefs with 52 yards rushing on a combination of option runs and scrambles. Reid says he's not afraid to let his young quarterback take off with the ball if that's what the defense encourages.
“They're going to be games when you've got to do that,” Reid said. “That's what's available and you've got to take advantage of that. But I've got confidence in the other guys that they can play, the other two runnings backs. I don't have a problem there.”
The Chiefs added another running back to the mix on Monday, bringing back free agent Charcandrick West. The 27-year-old West spent the past four seasons in Kansas City after joining the club as an undrafted free agent from Abilene Christian. The Chiefs released Hunt during training camp allowing him to pursue other options, but he remained a free agent after a short stint with the New York Jets.
West led the Chiefs with 634 yards rushing during their 2015 playoff campaign. He stepped into the starting lineup after Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending knee injury in October.
The Chiefs stand 10-2 and remain a game up in both the AFC West race and the battle for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. But if the offense hopes to sustain it's record-setting pace, even more of the burden falls on the shoulders of Mahomes.
When the Raiders cut the Kanas City lead to 33-30 on Sunday, that's when normally the Chiefs would have gone to Hunt as their closer. Hunt possessed the ability to pound out yards late and run out the clock.
But without Hunt, Mahomes took in leading the Chiefs on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive draining nearly 5 minutes off the clock. Mahomes completed 3-of-4 passes for 45 yards including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Chris Conley and added 17 more yards rushing.
“He was able to keep it going and then at the end,” Reid said. “He made some pretty significant plays for us.”