Chiefs rookie RB Kareem Hunt already pushing for playing time

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs will have to wait until training camp, when they can practice in pads, to get a better read on rookie running back Kareem Hunt.

But the Chiefs have seen enough from their third-round draft pick through two weeks of offseason practice to think he'll be able to help when the regular season begins.

"You probably need to see him get banged around a little bit and answer the bell again and again and again," said coach Andy Reid, referring to the treatment Hunt and all running backs will get at camp. "But I'd tell you the center of gravity, the way he moves, those guys that can kind of shift that big body around the way he does, you think he's going to be OK. He catches the ball well and he's a pretty smart kid. We're throwing a ton at him."

The running game needs a boost after last season, when the Chiefs averaged 4.2 yards per carry. That's their lowest average by almost a half-yard since 2011.

Hunt is a logical option for that growth to occur. Hunt rushed for 44 touchdowns and an impressive 6.3 yards per carry in his four collegiate seasons at Toledo.

Spencer Ware, the Chiefs' leading runner last season, and Charcandrick West, their leader in 2015, are the top two backs on the depth chart. But Hunt is getting plenty of work in practice.

"It’ll be exciting to see what he does," tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. "With running backs, you can see the speed and the quickness [at offseason practice], but the ability to run through the tackles and all of that stuff will come at training camp.

"There are some things [to be seen from Hunt] out here. It looks like he's going to fall down, but he has great balance and he stays up. I'm just excited to see what happens when the pads go on and things get a little more real."

Because hitting is prohibited at offseason practice, the sessions are more about the passing game. The Chiefs haven't been shy about putting Hunt in a variety of places and throwing him the ball.

He's responded to that part well. The Chiefs will have to wait until training camp to see if he can handle pass-protection responsibilities.

Hunt grew as a receiver last season. He caught 32 passes in his first three seasons at Toledo, and then 41 as a senior.

"I talked to my coaches at Toledo and [told them], 'I feel like I need to get more involved in the receiving game, and I feel like I can get open to make people miss in space,'" Hunt said. "I like [getting] the ball in [the open field]. I'm seeing running backs catching the ball a lot out of the backfield. I was like, 'Why can’t we get some of that stuff at Toledo?' Our coach did a great job of installing more things out of the backfield for the running backs, and it helped me out a lot."