KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Knile Davis thought his time to establish himself as a productive player for the Kansas City Chiefs had arrived during January’s playoff game against the New England Patriots. Injuries to Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West had given the Chiefs no choice but to go with Davis as their featured back and he was responding well.
“It was probably my best game for a while," Davis said. “I was effective on kickoff returns, caught all my [passes], ran good routes, averaged five [yards] per pop.
“And then [came] the fumble."
Davis’ third-quarter fumble, recovered by the Patriots, ended any realistic chance of a Chiefs victory. New England went on to score a touchdown to go ahead 21-6 to take full command of a game the Patriots went on to win 27-20.
For Davis, the fumble continued a pattern of unreliability as a running back. Whether a fumble, a dropped pass, an unproductive run or a missed assignment in pass protection, Davis has had a series of missteps for the Chiefs, the result being he hasn’t developed into the player the Chiefs thought he would be when they drafted him in the third round in 2013.
He’s been helpful to the Chiefs in an area they didn’t expect then, as a kickoff returner. His 106-yard return to begin Kansas City’s playoff game against Houston last season was the single biggest play in the Chiefs’ first postseason victory in 22 years.
But his play as a running back has been disappointing, something the Chiefs acknowledged last year when they promoted West and Ware over Davis on their depth chart and again this year, when they signed West and Ware to contract extensions.
Davis is third on the depth chart this spring as the Chiefs go through spring practice and will drop to fourth when the Charles returns from the rehab of his torn ACL.
It’s clear now Davis won’t be the eventual replacement for Charles, as the Chiefs hoped when they drafted him. Everything else about his future with the Chiefs isn’t quite as obvious. He’s working as the No. 1 kickoff returner in practice, but the Chiefs may not want to carry him on their regular-season roster if that’s all he does.
“I hope so, but that’s not up to me," Davis said about the possibility of remaining with the Chiefs. “This is my team. I’m under contract. I’m here until I’m not."
Reports surfaced earlier in the spring that Davis had asked for a trade and the Chiefs were trying to comply. But Davis said he never asked the Chiefs to trade him and that he never directed his agent to make the request.
While it’s unlikely his Chiefs career will come to a happy ending, Davis said he was still confident he would fulfill his potential, wherever that might be.
“I feel like I’ve showed glimpses of good ability," Davis said. “I just need an opportunity. Some people in this league wait six years for their opportunity. Some people get theirs quicker than others. The name of this business is stay healthy and be patient and that’s what I’m doing.
“At this point I can pretty much do it all. I just haven’t had the opportunity to show it. That’s a hard deal. But one day I will get the opportunity to show what I can do and I’m looking forward to that day."