Kadarius Toney joining the Kansas City Chiefs via trade on October 27 gave the Chiefs an potential replacement for rookie Skyy Moore as the team’s primary punt returner. Moore has 2 fumbles as the punt returner this season, with the latest one coming in the Week 7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in which the 49ers recovered Moore’s muffed punt inside the Chiefs’ red zone.
After the Week 8 bye, Kansas City gave Justin Watson the first opportunity to field punts against the Tennessee Titans in Week 9. He took the first punt of the game for 17 yards in the first quarter. However, Mecole Hardman was the returner for the remaining 7 punts by Tennessee and gathered 42 yards on 4 returns.
Week 9 marked the first game this season that Moore did not register a snap as a punt returner.
In Week 10, the team went with Toney as the punt returner. He was on the field for all 6 of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ punts, returning 2 of them for 11 total yards. Yet again, Moore didn’t take a snap as a punt returner for the second consecutive week.
With several options but no clear-cut favorite of Kansas City’s coaching staff, the Chiefs broke their silence in Week 11 regarding who the full-time starting punt returner will be moving forward.
Toub Says New Chiefs WR Will Be Starter
Speaking to the media on November 17, Chiefs special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Dave Toub announced that Kadarius Toney will be the team’s primary punt returner moving forward.
“Right now, he’s — I can’t wait to see a ball kicked to him,” Toub said. “We haven’t had that option really, I mean, (the Jacksonville Jaguars) did a good job last week of using the sidelines and hanging the ball out pretty good. So, sooner or later he’s going to get one kicked to him and we’re gonna find out what he’s got. I’ve got a pretty good feeling about it, though.”
Although excited, Toub acknowledged that Toney has things to learn as an NFL punt returner.
“He’s got to do a little bit better with some reads, you know, but he’ll — that’s part of the learning experience,” Toub said of Toney. “He’s young [laughs] and he’s gonna get better and better. But he’s something with the ball in his hands.”
During Toney’s year and a half with the New York Giants, he was minimally used as a returner. However, during his senior year at Florida, he averaged 12.6 yards per return and had 1 return touchdown, per Pro Sports Reference.
It has taken just 2 games and a very limited snap count for Toney to display to Chiefs Kingdom how electric he can be when the ball is in his hands. The Chiefs want to get the ball in Toney’s hands as much as possible as a result, and also want to fix an inconsistent aspect of their special teams. That’s why making the newly-acquired playmaker the full-time punt returner was a no-brainer.
Twitter Reacts to Toney’s Newly-Defined Role
Twitter users reacted to the news of Toney officially being named Kansas City’s primary punt returner.
“Hopefully he makes good decisions and holds onto the ball. Everything else is a bonus,” one Twitter user wrote.
“This dude just walked in the building and started taking grown men’s jobs,” another user wrote.