The Chiefs began bye week preparations Tuesday afternoon with a 75-minute practice focusing on self-scouting and conditioning. A number of veteran players were held out of the workout, including
Both running backs left Sunday’s game because of injury, but neither is expected to miss a significant amount of time going forward.
“(The injuries) are not too bad, I don’t think,” head coach Todd Haley said. “Just from the nature of how many snaps that Jackie played and then the fact that Le’Ron had a little issue in the game, you won’t see them do a whole bunch.”
“I’m fine,” Battle added. “Just a little dinged up, nothing major.”
Battle was injured on his final carry of Sunday’s 28-24 win while lowering his head in an attempt to gain extra yardage for a game-clinching first down.
“I’m still learning,” Battle said. “That was my first time carrying the load and I saw a guy stumbling and I tried to get down lower than him. Then another guy hit me in the back of the head.”
The Chiefs will practice again Wednesday morning before breaking for the bye weekend. New CBA rules mandate a four-day layoff during bye weeks. Kansas City will utilize those days Thursday through Sunday.
Even Jackie Battle didn’t expect to receive the kind of workload he saw in a career-best 119-yard rushing performance Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. Only once in his career had Battle received more than five carries and he logged just 10 total attempts over the Chiefs first four games this season.
“I guess it was just the flow of the game,” Battle said. “I had some pretty good runs my first few and they just kept feeding it to me.”
An injury to McClain was one of the reasons for Battle’s increased play-time, but so was the Chiefs true running back by committee system.
Battle received 13 of his 19 carries in the second half after establishing himself as the team’s most effective rusher with six first-half carries for 38 yards (6.3 avg.).
“My mentality is still the same,” Battle said. “If they need me to get a ton of carries, then I’ll take them. If not, then we still have some valuable backs. Dexter (McCluster) is still Dexter and Thomas (Jones) can still carry the load, but I’m ready to step up if they need me to.”
“We all bring something different,” McCluster added. “Jackie is elusive as well as being a big back that can run over you and get the extra yardage. Thomas is a great leader and a great runner and I can bring some different dynamics into it.”
Jones served as an effective complimentary back Sunday afternoon with the flow of the game calling for power football between the tackles opposed to speed around the edge. He finished behind Battle with 10 carries for 55 yards (5.5 avg.) as the Chiefs churned out their top rushing performance of the year (38 carries for 194 yards).
“There were some gaping holes created by the o-line and I have to give them credit first,” Battle said. “I just had to do my job on the second level, but the first level was no problem.”
Battle previously gained just 155 rushing yards over a five-year NFL career, but he hadn’t served as a lead back before either. Each season, Battle has found himself as the third or fourth option on the depth chart and relied on his special teams ability to stay on the roster.
“I’ve just been kind of sitting back and waiting patiently,” Battle said. “I’ve been behind some pretty great backs, so I haven’t had much to complain about but I’m just grateful for an opportunity to get the ball.”
Battle first arrived with the Chiefs as a member of the practice squad in 2007. If Larry Johnson hadn’t been lost for the year with a foot injury and Priest Holmes forced to retire with a recurring neck issue, the Chiefs might have never brought Battle in for a look.
His best previous performance came on a 13-carry, 44-yard effort in the 2007 season finale against the N.Y. Jets. Only when backup Kolby Smith went down with an ankle injury did the Chiefs turn to Battle.
“You can’t say that’s the best game you’re going to see from me because it was my first time carrying the load,” Battle said. “I think I have a little more in me. That’s just my first game. Who knows what I’m capable of doing? I’m going to try and go out there and top my previous performances each week.”
Baldwin Was Close
Chiefs first-round draft choice
The decision whether or not to activate Baldwin came down to the final minutes leading up to the NFL’s 90-minute deadline for inactives.
“Those 46 spots on Sunday are critical and hard,” Haley said. “I go up to the last 90 minutes before kickoff, still mulling it over and talking with some of the coaches and trying to make sure that we get it right. Usually five of those guys you kind of know what you’re going to do just off of practice but the last two are always difficult.”
Baldwin was one of the final two decisions.
Out with a thumb injury since August 17th, Baldwin had only one week of practice time under his belt. He was medially cleared to practice last Wednesday and turned in an encouraging week of workouts, but Haley made the decision to hold off on activating the rookie until after the bye week.
“You’ve got to take into account special teams and he hadn’t done a lot of practicing on special teams because of being hurt and not being out there,” Haley said. “We just have to do what’s best for the team right now and we won the game, so I feel like we did the right thing.”