In one of the few items of information that has followed the Chiefs since the beginning of OTA’s two weeks ago, there has been significant banter about the curious case of running back/wide receiver, Dexter McCluster. With the news he’ll go back to wide receiver in 2012, it does raise some questions about what the former Mississippi standout can do for the Chiefs.
At best McCluster has been average in Kansas City. And it was clear last year, when then Head Coach Todd Haley, over used him as a running back option – that he was relatively ineffective in both running and receiving.
The third year player has a gift of speed and to date in the teams OTA sessions McCluster has a big fan in new Offensive Coordinator, Brian Daboll. But no matter how much he’s beloved by the man calling the plays for the Chiefs this year - McCluster is still an enigma. And that has motivated McCluster to take the teachings of his new offensive coordinator and identify his new role.
“I love Coach (Brian) Daboll. He has a way of using the guys that he has to their strengths. I think now going into the third week, I’m really understanding the coverages, understanding the defenses and my responsibilities to get other players open as well,” McCluster said after Monday’s OTA sessions.
There’s no question he has talent but does he have enough to make an impact this season. Honestly it’s way too early to flip that coin.
In the offseason, the Chiefs were wise to remove McCluster from the backfield. He’s too small to be a featured back and the speedy runner had a very difficult time escaping the line of scrimmage when he was asked to carry the rock as a featured back. Sure he showed flashes of brilliance but those were few and far between in 2011. But before we judge him too harshly, the entire offense was erratic last season.
There is no debate the Chiefs offense this season is going to be miles ahead of the one that bombed a year ago. And within a division that features a few offensive playmakers, McCluster needs to stand out and be heard.
“I’ve been doing a lot of changes throughout my career, but I love it. It keeps me on my ‘A’ game. It keeps me always thinking, never knowing what to expect and just being ready for whatever situation is to come. It would be a waste of time for me to get down. I’m going to focus on what they want me to do, whenever they want me to do it,” he said.
But what can we expect from his this year? As a rookie back in 2010, he showed flashes of brilliance and last year he was a below average participant. So one could assume that 2012 is a make or break year for McCluster.
When the Chiefs drafted Fresno State Wide Receiver, Devon Wylie, last April, everyone was set to anoint him as the teams starting slot receiver. But at the moment, he’s pretty wet behind the ears. Thus McCluster has a terrific opportunity to shine some flash for KC’s offense this year and stave off his competition – at least for one more season.
Wylie will eventually get up to speed in the Chiefs offense and the early comparisons to Wes Welker, though lofty at the moment, do fit the young receiver.
And all that hype might be good for McCluster. Because when he was drafted, many felt he could have the same impact for the Chiefs as Welker does for the Patriots. But with a fiery new offensive coordinator, the Chiefs receiver is ready to show what he can in 2012.
“Throughout your career, you’re always going to find coaches that maybe yell a lot or are more fired up than others, but it’s about adjusting to your surroundings. Your job is to go out here and play, no matter what kind of personality the coach has. You have to go out there and do it.”
Thus far McCluster hasn’t shown that ability in a Chiefs uniform. But he’ll get that opportunity this year to shed that armor of inconsistency and prove his critics that he’s a playmaker.
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