McKnight's return from oblivion is complete

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid had a message for running back Joe McKnight during Sunday’s 34-15 victory against the Miami Dolphins.

"I told him after one of the touchdowns, 'You’re back,'" Reid said.

A year after his NFL career was left for dead when he was cut by the New York Jets, McKnight announced his return to NFL action with his own loud message. On a day when the Chiefs played without their best offensive player, running back Jamaal Charles, plus two starting offensive linemen, McKnight emerged as their most unlikely hero.

McKnight led the Chiefs in catches (six), receiving yards (64) and touchdowns (two). This from a player whose NFL career looked to be finished after his previous NFL game in December of 2012 when he rushed for two yards on one carry for the Jets against the Buffalo Bills.

McKnight had a sore knee that kept him out of much of training camp and it didn’t look then like he would make the regular-season roster.

The Chiefs, who already had Charles, Knile Davis, De'Anthony Thomas and Cyrus Gray at running back and Anthony Sherman at fullback, appeared to have little need for a player who was unable to show much at camp.

Even McKnight didn’t expect to survive.

"Of course I was nervous," he said. "We’ve got six running backs and all six can play ball."

Credit to the Chiefs for keeping McKnight anyway. They pledged to keep their best 53 players regardless of position and, in McKnight’s case at least, followed through.

Even the Chiefs didn’t know they would need McKnight so much and so early in the season. They went exclusively with a short passing game against the Dolphins. All of quarterback Alex Smith's 25 attempts went less than 10 yards, eight yards being his longest throw of the day.

The Chiefs were looking for receivers who could run and make yards after the catch, and they correctly identified McKnight to be in that category. He played mainly on passing downs and was a prominent part of the game plan.

The Chiefs showed an extraordinary amount of faith in a player who was rarely a significant contributor in his three seasons with the Jets.

He never had an offensive touchdown during those seasons, though he did score twice on kickoff returns.

From the looks of things on Sunday, McKnight’s touchdowns in Miami won’t be his last.