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Why Chiefs are taking Tyreek Hill off kick returns

The Chiefs are taking Tyreek Hill off the kickoff-return team. Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- When the Kansas City Chiefs practiced kickoff return on the first day of training camp, their best player at this particular craft was not first in line. Tyreek Hill, in fact, wasn't in the line at all.

The Chiefs are taking Hill off kickoff-return duty. It's part of the plan to free him for more work on offense.

"We've got De'Anthony [Thomas]; we've got Demarcus [Robinson]; we've got guys like that who can come in and give the same type of explosive play that I can," Hill said. "[There's] nothing going to change. It's all going to be the same.

"But will I miss it? Yes. It's another chance for me to score, so yeah."

Hill was valuable to the Chiefs as a return specialist as a rookie last season. He scored three touchdowns on special teams -- two on punt returns and one on a kickoff return. He led the league in punt-return average at 15.2 yards and his kickoff-return average was 27.4 yards, almost 5 yards per return better than Thomas (22.5).

In the meantime, Hill was a part-timer on offense. He still caught 61 passes, rushed for 267 yards and led the Chiefs with nine offensive touchdowns.

"We put a lot on his plate last year and he handled it great," co-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. "I think we were more concerned with making sure we didn't do too much. There's that balance mentally where's he's at and then physically where he's at. You take him on all those jet-sweep motions and then you take him on vertical routes downfield. That's a lot."

Now, the Chiefs are trying to squeeze more from him on offense. The trade-off is that he won't be returning kickoffs.

The Chiefs need to make that move worth their while.

"He's a weapon in so many areas and every defensive coordinator that's out there is concerned about him because of his speed," Nagy said. "We just need to make sure that as we go forward here, we put him in the right spots, we don't overuse him and mentally you want to stick to that less-is-more mentality so that he can play fast."