Chiefs Plan to Expand Pro-Bowl Punt Returner’s Role as Pass-Catcher

Getty Chiefs' Mecole Hardman

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has accomplished quite a bit in his rookie campaign at Arrowhead Stadium. A Super Bowl ring and his first Pro Bowl nod, it’s safe to say the 2019 second round draftee out of Georgia was a fine selection for general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid.

Now entering his sophomore year, it looks like special teams coordinator Dave Toub is imagining a new role for the 22-year-old, and that may limit his availability as a punt returner.

“I’m not sure about Hardman,” Toub said to reporters via video on Tuesday. “I don’t want to lose him. I think he’s just scratched the surface as a returner. He hasn’t reached his potential yet. He could be even better. I think he knows that and hopefully, we can keep him in those roles. It’s important. It’s important to get the ball in guys hands that can make plays and he’s one of them.”

In his inaugural season, Hardman recorded 26 receptions for 538 yards (20.7 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. Although Kansas City fans may see this as unfortunate news, it might be the best strategy moving forward. Not only does this lessen the chances of injury, but also allows the rising star to become a clutch player in arenas across the offense.


Hill Makes Bold Prediction for Hardman’s Second Seaon

Hardman’s teammate, fellow wide receiver and also gifted return specialist Tyreek Hill, was quick to pile on the praises his direction. Addressing the Kansas City media Friday, the four-time Pro Bowler himself predicted a 1,000-yard sophomore season for Hardman.

“Well, I think Mecole (Hardman) is going to continue to be a heck of a player,” Hill said to reporters. “But it’s all about mindset. I feel like if he continues to do what he has been doing in the past and works his butt off, he’s going to be amazing.”

Hill continued: “There is no ceiling for this kid. I feel like he’s definitely a 1,000-yard receiver every year — with the targets, obviously. He’s just got to continue to work. He’s got to be different. He’s got to find something to be different at every year. It just can’t be speed. It just can’t be relying on outrunning everyone — because sometimes, it’s going to be a contested catch. Sometimes, it’s going to be — you got to get off a jam. You got to work on those things. I feel like he is going to work on those things because he wants to be great and he wants to be a part of this offense. He likes the challenge, so he’s going to be great.”

With 20 of 22 starters returning for their Super Bowl defense season, the Chiefs have their top three receivers back, so there may not wind up being a substantial change in Hardman’s offensive role when the NFL returns this fall.

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