Kansas City Chiefs hope to use Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a receiver, not just a runner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After missing five games with a sprained MCL in his left knee, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned to the Kansas City Chiefs' lineup in their most recent game and his impact was evident. Edwards-Helaire rushed for more than 5 yards per carry and scored a touchdown as the Chiefs beat the Dallas Cowboys.

He wasn't much of a factor as a receiver, catching two passes for 13 yards. But the possibilities for Edwards-Helaire as a receiver are what intrigued quarterback Patrick Mahomes after the game.

"He was finding little creases here and there to make some stuff happen and I thought the offensive line did a great job getting him those windows," Mahomes said of Edwards-Helaire. "We'll keep incorporating him more and more. I mean, he looked healthy so just glad to have him back and hopefully we can find ways to throw him some passes, too. He's pretty good out of the backfield as well."

The Chiefs drafted Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft in part because of his ability to catch the ball and make defenders miss in space while he was at LSU. But the Chiefs haven't used him much in that way. Edwards-Helaire caught 36 passes with one touchdown as a rookie last season.

This year in 10 games he has 10 receptions with two going for a touchdown.

Throwing the ball more often to Edwards-Helaire or their other backs is a place for the Chiefs to grow their offense. The Chiefs scored more than 20 points once in the last five games, but in the one instance when they scored big, their back was a big part of the passing game. Edwards-Helaire's replacement, Darrel Williams, caught nine passes for 101 yards, one for a 38-yard touchdown, in a 41-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Coach Andy Reid indicated getting the ball to Edwards-Helaire as a receiver was a priority.

"He's a valuable tool, if you want to look at it that way, because he can catch the ball so well," Reid said. "He becomes a valuable piece in the offense."

Edwards-Helaire had no fear his season was over when he injured his left knee against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5. He said his experience with injuries taught him that.

But the time away from the field was difficult for him anyway.

"I've been in some bad tie-ups and a lot of people probably wouldn't be standing here if they were in the same things that I was," Edwards-Helaire said. "Initially, just kind of feeling it, I knew it wasn't the best. Who wants to be hurt when this is literally what I do every day, Monday through Sunday? It's not just that I was done for a time. It was, 'I do this every day and now I can't do it anymore' so I was frustrated."

Edwards-Helaire was knocked out of the lineup last season for three games plus one in the playoffs because of injuries to his ankle and his hip.

"Every time I hit my stride it seems like something happens," Edwards-Helaire said. "You want to play ball. I do this seven days a week. I go into the facility every day. When somebody tells you you can't do that, it's frustrating. But you have to figure out another way to get that fix."

Edwards-Helaire said his way of doing that during his absence was to go deeper into his film study and pay close attention at practice even when he wasn't going to play.

"I needed to mentally trick myself as far as telling my body I was doing it when I'm really not," he said. "That's what makes you a pro. I feel like that's what sets me apart from the next person."