Damien Williams will go to training camp as the Chiefs’ starting running back. He likely starts the season as the lead back, too.
Williams earned that with what he did last season.
But the Chiefs didn’t use a first-round choice on LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to have him sit and watch. He will play, and play a lot, if not start.
“I think the kid’s got some special traits, but I also believe our players are going to help him to grow to become even more of a special contributor when it’s all said and done with,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said Tuesday on a video call with beat writers.
Edwards-Helaire ranks among the favorites for offensive rookie of the year. He looks like a perfect fit for what the Chiefs do on offense, giving Andy Reid, Bieniemy and Patrick Mahomes yet another weapon.
“One thing is [General Manager] Brett Veach and his entire staff did a great job of evaluating the kid,” Bieniemy said. “Collectively, as a coaching staff, we felt we did a great job of evaluating the talent. But on top of that, and I think this is more important than anything, we know one thing that that kid is going to do: He is going to come in and work his tail off. Now, he’s just going to be a piece of the puzzle. You’ve got Damien Williams, who did a hell of a job for us last year. He’s also going to have an opportunity to play with one of his former teammates [Darrel Williams]. Then, we have Darwin [Thompson]. Then, we have the young kid, [DeAndre] Washington. So we have a unique situation where he can come in and have an opportunity to learn from a collective group. But also we want to make sure we’re utilizing him the right way and making sure he’s mentally prepared to go when it’s time to go.”
The concern with any rookie back is blocking. Edwards-Helaire still has a lot to learn, especially as a blocker.
“Well, we’ve had this discussion with him,” Bieniemy said. “You know what? Sometimes you see college kids put some good stuff on top. Sometimes you see them put some poor stuff on tape. The thing that we do know is that he does have the willingness to block. He understands that’s a huge asset that’s going to help him moving forward to get him on the field and contribute to what we do on our side of the ball. But one thing I will say: He does have the attitude and the mindset to get it done, so I’m not concerned with that.”