The Kansas City Chiefs have been trying to accelerate the learning process for rookie running back Kareem Hunt, to a reasonable extent. He received a most important lesson in Friday night's 26-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks when starting running back Spencer Ware left the game in the first quarter because of a right-knee injury and didn't return.
"For a young guy, you always tell them, 'You're one play away from being in there as the guy,'" coach Andy Reid said. "He got that [message] firsthand."
Ware's injury makes Hunt the regular featured back. The Chiefs will know more about the extent of Ware's condition Saturday, when he was scheduled for an MRI.
Ware was tackled after catching a short pass and immediately grabbed for his right knee. He was carted off the field, making way for Hunt.
The Chiefs also have Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller at running back. But Ware, at 229 pounds, is their biggest and most physical runner. They have no other back quite like Ware, who led the Chiefs in rushing with 921 yards last season.
Hunt ran for 39 yards on nine carries against the Seahawks, a week after he went for 40 yards on eight carries against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Kareem got good work last week," Reid said of the third-round pick out of Toledo. "He learned how fast this thing can change, where all of a sudden you become that starter. He's in a position to do that. We do have Charcandrick there and that helps. He's a good football player, too, and C.J. They both have some experience there."
The starting offense, which played only the first half Friday, struggled for the first time in the preseason. The Chiefs had only 102 first-half yards, and their only touchdown came on De'Anthony Thomas' 95-yard kickoff return.
Several dropped passes were a problem.
"We had some drops early from our [starters]," Reid said. "That normally doesn't happen. We're a pretty sure-handed football team, but we had some drops with potential yards after catch.
"I'm big on 'anything that touches your body, you catch.' As a receiver in the National Football League, that's what you do. I put that responsibility on those guys and ... they normally make those catches or I wouldn't have expected them to do it."