Chiefs have appealing options in return game

The Chiefs’ return game got off to a promising start last year

when rookie Dexter McCluster took a punt 94 yards for a

momentum-swinging touchdown in the opener.

Kansas City couldn’t keep it up all season with McCluster and

fellow second-round pick Javier Arenas.

”They both got beat up in a number of different ways, which

happens,” coach Todd Haley said. ”And it didn’t look so hot as we

got through the season.”

The Chiefs signed receiver Steve Breaston this offseason, adding

even more depth and versatility to their return game.

Kansas City ranked 28th in the NFL on kickoff returns last

season and 17th on punt returns. McCluster’s score turned out to be

its only touchdown from the return game all season. The Chiefs did

improve their average punt return by 4 yards from the previous

year.

In the 2010 Week 1 win over the Chargers, Arenas had a pair of

long punt returns in the first half. Then McCluster came in to

field a second-quarter punt and went all the way to the end

zone.

Breaston returned punts and kicks in his first four seasons with

Arizona. Haley believes the Chiefs won’t use one dedicated return

man this season because of each player’s other abilities.

”If that were his No. 1 job, then I would be all for that if he

were a big-time returner, which they all have a chance to be,”

Haley said. ”As the situation looks right now, I don’t know if

that’ll be the case. Those are guys that are contributing in other

areas where we need them – all three of them.”

Haley expects to rotate returners based on their fatigue from

their regular duties for the second straight season.

”You felt completely confident doing it because you felt like

either guy gave you a chance to make a big play,” Haley said.

Arenas practiced with the first team at cornerback until Brandon

Carr signed Thursday. A nickel back in his first season, Arenas

should continue to see plenty of snaps on defense.

Arenas is dedicated to returning, but he won’t flinch if he’s

not out there for every punt and kick.

”I’m not going to pitch a fit,” he said. ”Whatever they ask

for I’m going to go out there and give it my best.”

McCluster, a hybrid running back-wide receiver, provides

versatility and speed on offense. Breaston projects as the slot

receiver behind Dwayne Bowe and rookie first-round pick Jonathan

Baldwin.

McCluster said the mantra for the returners was to be

prepared.

”I’m just going to approach special teams like I do all the

time: Be ready when my time is called, catch every ball, make all

the right decisions and just try to make plays,” McCluster

said.