Chiefs plan to grow Kareem Hunt's game by using him more as a receiver

Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing last season but also caught 53 passes, putting him third on the team. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing last season and it’s not as if the rookie running back was unproductive as a pass receiver. He caught 53 passes, putting him third on the Kansas City Chiefs behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

But coach Andy Reid is already envisioning Hunt being busier as a receiver next season.

"We thought we had a decent number (of plays) for Kareem (last) year," said Reid, speaking at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. “We probably need to increase the pass part of that a little bit more and expand on his role in the pass game."

The pass game is a logical place for the Chiefs to grow Hunt’s game next season. He was third on the team in receptions but achieved that in limited playing time. He frequently came out of the game in obvious passing situations in favor of Charcandrick West.

That’s not uncommon for a young player. The Chiefs trusted West more in pass protection, but they’ll expect significant improvement from Hunt in that area next season.

"The fact you can take a big guy like that and that he can be a power and finesse runner and at the same time be a pass receiver is a real plus," Reid said. "That’s one spot we’ve probably got to do a better job increasing his role this year in the pass game, giving him a little bit more even than what he had last year. That’s just kind of the natural progression from first year to second year there."

The Chiefs may lighten Hunt’s role as a runner. It’s easy to forget now, but Hunt was slated to be a backup heading into the preseason. Then Spencer Ware injured his knee and was lost for the season, opening the opportunity for Hunt.

Ware might gain back a portion of the role he lost with the knee injury.

"We’ll see how that goes," Reid said. "A healthy Ware would be a nice problem to have. That would be a nice tandem to have there, for sure."