With Avery injured, Chiefs may need other WRs to step it up
The Chiefs might need to get creative when it comes to filling the void left by an injured Donnie Avery
By JEFFREY FLANAGANFS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The
Chiefs seemingly already have been living offensively without their star receiver Dwayne Bowe, who has been predominantly double-teamed and has just 17 catches for a pedestrian 183 yards this season.
They may have to live without speedy wideout Donnie Avery as well.
Avery suffered a shoulder bruise in Sunday's 26-17 win over the Titans and could not finish the game. His status is in doubt for this week's game against the Raiders.
If Avery, who leads the team with 304 receiving yards, can't go, the Chiefs likely will have to get creative in filling his absence.
That likely means more of A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers' No. 1 pick in 2012 who busted in San Francisco but whose career the Chiefs are trying to salvage.
Jenkins filled in for Avery on Sunday, but did not catch a pass.
Still, Chiefs coach Andy Reid says he would be comfortable going with Jenkins.
"He's the next guy up," Reid says. "He's a young guy who continues to learn what we're doing. So, I thought he did a good job out there. We have a comfort level there."
The Chiefs also may lean on 5-foot-8 wideout/slot receiver Chad Hall, who saw a lot of action Sunday. In fact, Hall was targeted four times on the opening series and caught his first pass as a Chief.
"We had a little package in there for him," Reid says. "He did some good things early for us, and then we kind of blended him in throughout the rest of the game. He gives you some things, some quickness.
"Both he and Dex (McCluster) are a bit undersized, but they give you quickness underneath. We'll try to utilize both of them, sometimes at the same time."
Losing Avery, though, no doubt will be felt. Avery is the lone Chiefs receiver who can stretch the defense. He has a 51-yard reception this season -- the Chiefs' longest of the year -- and also had a 44-yarder on Sunday.
Avery's biggest catch Sunday came after the Chiefs' goal-line stand. From the Chiefs' 1-yard line, quarterback Alex Smith lofted a pass toward the left sideline that Avery hauled in for 41 yards.
"That was a play we had scripted," Reid says. "Alex got it up there and Donnie did a nice job of finding it and hanging on to it. Those are the plays we get from (Avery)."
But without Avery, Smith will have to search for different targets, something Reid believes Smith will have no problem doing.
"Alex works with these guys throughout practice, even when we're doing other things," Reid says. "He has trust in them. He will go to a guy like (Sean) McGrath in crucial situations. Or he may go to (Kevin) Brock. They know he trusts them and goes to them.
"Alex has worked a little with Chad (last year in San Francisco), so he knows him. It's mostly about trusting your teammates, and Alex does that."
Of course, it wouldn't hurt if the Chiefs could find some way to get more production out of Bowe, though that will continue to be difficult as opposing defenses are likely to double him even more frequently.
"He's gotten it going at the right times," Reid says of Bowe. "Teams put a lot of emphasis on him, and that opens things up for other guys. You see teams drop down on him, settling on him and giving up the flat. That opens it up for other guys.
"But (Bowe) is doing what he can to help. He's fine."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email email@example.com