Running an essential part of Smith's game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Halfway into his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs, quarterback Alex Smith already has a career high for rushing yards with 258. He is well on his way to breaking the Chiefs’ single-season rushing mark for quarterbacks of 386 set by Tyler Thigpen in 2008.

Running has been a big part of Smith’s game going back to the time he played in Urban Meyer’s spread offense in college at Utah. He went over the 1,000-yard mark for his NFL career in last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns, so he obviously did his share of running while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

But Smith is running more than ever with the Chiefs and it’s been a crucial part of his game. He extended many drives with not only his scrambles, but his keepers on the option and even the occasionally called running play.

It’s an essential part of the Chiefs’ offense. Their only consistent threats they’ve had this season are the running and receiving of Jamaal Charles and Smith’s rushing.

“If they’re going to give you that, (I’ll) take it,’’ he said.

The threat of injury will be there for Smith, but that’s a risk he and the Chiefs will need to take. Smith and the Chiefs have underperformed in the passing game. He is completing only 59 percent of his passes, below the league average.

Smith lost his starting job last season for the 49ers after taking a hit at the end of a scramble. He had plenty of time to get down but opted instead to take the hit that resulted in a concussion and eventually the loss of his job and the trade to Kansas City.

“Even then I knew it was a stupid hit to take,’’ he said. “It was a first or second down. It certainly wasn’t a third down. It wasn’t close to the chains. You live to fight another day there.

“I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years by not making good decisions. As you get older, you get smarter with it and try not to take unnecessary hits. There’s a risk/reward there, pulling the ball down and running as a quarterback, knowing when to take the chances. Do you go down head first? Do you slide? Do you go out of bounds?’’

Smith said that, but he has taken some big hits at the end of runs this season. He had his legs cut from underneath him in an early-season game against the Dallas Cowboys. He took a fierce shot along the sideline during the fourth-quarter touchdown drive to put the Chiefs ahead against the Tennessee Titans.

Look for more similar plays the last half of the season.

“I enjoy it,’’ he said. “I enjoy running. I enjoy getting hit occasionally. It’s part of the game.’’