Chris Chambers wasn’t going to lie as he dressed in the visiting locker room in Oakland on Nov. 15.
After his second game as a Kansas City Chief, Chambers’ mind was already looking ahead two weeks. Asked about his thoughts of getting a chance to beat his former team, the San Diego Chargers, Chambers didn’t hesitate to answer.
“That game is marked on my calendar,” Chambers said with a smile.
The time is here for Chambers as he prepares to face the Chargers on Sunday in San Diego.
“I really want to show San Diego that I’m not done,” Chambers said. “That’s very important to me.”
Chambers won’t have to show San Diego that he has still has immense ability. The Chargers have surely witnessed on tape that Chambers is far from finished as a relevant NFL receiver. Chambers is also far from the receiver he was three weeks ago when the Chargers surprisingly cut the receiver loose.
Chambers has been one of the best stories of the NFL in November. His remarkable ride began Nov. 1 when San Diego benched the then-slumping Chambers against Oakland after he suffered through several dropped balls. However, he still came through for the Chargers when he made a huge catch on third-and-long deep in San Diego territory to extend what was the game-winning drive.
Chambers beat Raiders star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha one-on-one to make the catch. Several San Diego players said it was the play of the game. It was Chambers’ last catch as a Charger.
The team cut Chambers the next day. It was expected that Chambers and his $4.55 million contract (he is a free agent at the end of the year) would go unclaimed and he would sign with a contender. However, the Chiefs surprised the league by claiming Chambers. They were the only team to put in a claim.
It was the best move Kansas City has made all season. In Chambers, the Chiefs instantly filled their need for a starting receiver. The Chiefs have brought in several veteran wideouts since the offseason. None had worked out -- until Chambers came along.
He has been fantastic in three games with the Chiefs.
Chambers, 31, has 10 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns with Kansas City. In seven games with San Diego, Chambers had nine catches for 122 yards and one touchdown.
He had two touchdown catches in his first game as a Chief as a fourth-quarter rally by Kansas City fell short against Jacksonville. He made huge catches in the Chiefs' last two games, against Oakland and Pittsburgh, both Kansas City wins. He had a 61-yard catch against the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers to set up the Chiefs’ overtime win.
“I feel great here,” Chambers said. “I’ve really been received well by this team and the coaching staff.”
Chambers admits he is recharged since leaving San Diego. After his release, he told the San Diego Union Tribune he thought his personal life led to his release. Chambers is now happy to put those issues behind him. Still, he admits he wants to show the Chargers that they should have had patience with him. San Diego acquired Chambers from Miami in 2007.
“I’m disappointed,” Chambers said. “It was almost like I was fired. Well, I was. I wish they had given me more time. But I burned bridges with the front office.”
He hasn’t had any issues with the Chiefs. Kansas City coach Todd Haley has been complimentary of Chambers often this month. He mentioned Chambers by name after the win over Pittsburgh for his big play in overtime and for playing despite being banged up.
“Chris Chambers has continued [to play well],” Haley said. “He was injured in the game and missed a couple of plays and had to pull himself back out and then went back in and made arguably the biggest play in the game for us in overtime -- another bright spot.”
Chambers is particularly important to Kansas City with top receiver Dwayne Bowe entering the second week of a four-week NFL suspension for using performance-enhancing substances. The 3-7 Chiefs surely will rely on Chambers as they try to turn their current two-game win streak into a hot finish. And Chambers is happy to get the chance.
“I look at this as an audition for next year,” Chambers said. “The Chiefs took a chance on me, and I want to prove it to them that I can help them.”
He also wants to prove it to San Diego. On Sunday, he’ll get his chance.
“I can’t wait,” Chambers said, his smile still intact.