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Chiefs Backs Welcome McClain Addition

Posted Aug 3, 2011

McClain provides the Chiefs with a dual-threat option at fullback

ST. JOSEPH, MO – Todd Haley insisted the Chiefs were still a run-first team in his daily press conference Wednesday afternoon. This was hours before Kansas City had agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent FB Le’Ron McClain.

After drafting WR Jonathan Baldwin in the first round and adding former Arizona WR Steve Breaston through free agency, Kansas City’s wide receiving core saw significant upgrade since it took the field in January’s playoff loss. With the wide receivers highlighting two of the Chiefs biggest off-season moves, Haley felt the need to re-iterate that running the football would again be the heart of Kansas City’s success in 2011.

“We want to be a running team first and then build from there,” Haley said. “That part of it’s not going to change.”

The pursuit of McClain backs up that belief. The Chiefs have since dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s to make the addition official.

“I played with Le’Ron in the Pro Bowl in 2008 he’s a great guy,” RB Thomas Jones said. “He’s had a great career out there in Baltimore and I’ve followed him. He’ll be a great addition to our team.”

“I think he’s a real good pick-up,” RB Jamaal Charles added.

For the Chiefs, McClain will add to an already talented backfield that led the league in rushing last season. But while the Chiefs finished atop league rushing charts there were  some hidden struggles, particularly in third-and-short situations.

Kansas City converted just 11-of-26 (42.3%) third-and-one snaps to finish 32nd in the NFL. The Chiefs also ranked 31st in converting third downs of four yards or less.

“I think that our identity as an offense will be to be a good running team,” Haley said. “As we define with the players, it’s to be able to run the ball when they know you’re running the ball.”

McClain gives the Chiefs something they haven’t had at the fullback position since Tony Richardson departed for Minnesota prior to the 2006 campaign – a traditional fullback that doubles as a ball carrier.

Since Richardson’s departure, Kansas City’s fullbacks have either been smaller in size or used almost exclusively as blockers. At 6-0, 260, McClain is a load, but he also has a history of rushing and receiving success.

While serving as lead blocker for 1,000-yard backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, McClain also churned out 1,185 rushing yards in 54 starts with the Ravens from 2007-10. He carried the ball a career-high 232 times for 902 yards with 10 TDs in 2008 and owns 70 career receptions for 453 yards and two TDs.

The Chiefs now boast 14,242 career rushing yards spread between Jones, Charles and McClain, with Dexter McCluster also expected to fit into the mix. Even so, Jones says success is not about finding a way to split the carries. It’s about filling roles.

“We don’t think like (there’s not enough carries to go around),” Jones said. “That’s more the media and people who have their favorite guy. We’re here and we all have a role to play on this team and that’s to do the best that you can to help us win.”

McClain is expected to make his Chiefs debut in St. Joseph Thursday afternoon.

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