Dexter McCluster: Chiefs Make Right Move Using Speedy Youngster as Slot Receiver

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 13, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 30: Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Chiefs 24-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With Jamaal Charles back and Peyton Hillis in the fold in Kansas City, the Chiefs used speedy third-year pro Dexter McCluster as a slot receiver in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Although the Chiefs still lost, 40-24, Chiefs fans can take solace in the fact that the team is at least making the right personnel decisions.

After a nightmare 2011 campaign that saw Kansas City go 7-9 and finish at the bottom of the AFC West, the first step for head coach Romeo Crennel and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is to guide the Chiefs in the right direction.

By using McCluster as a slot receiver, Kansas City puts the 24-year-old in the best place to succeed. 

The knock on McCluster when he entered the league in 2010 was that he didn't possess the necessary size and strength to be an every-down running back. But McCluster's elite speed, quickness and explosiveness make him a nightmare in the open field and allow him to rack up yards after catch.

That's why it wasn't surprising when he caught six balls for 82 yards against the Falcons in Week 1, averaging 13.7 yards per reception.

McCluster was also targeted a team-high 10 times in that game, four more than star wideout Dwayne Bowe. His most impressive play came on a 2nd-and-9 against Falcons top cornerback Dunta Robinson. McCluster caught the ball 14 yards downfield before spinning free for another seven yards.

Fans and pundits alike have envisioned McCluster as a potential X-factor throughout the years. But he hasn't delivered until now. That is in large part because he was never utilized the right way. However, now that he is being utilized the right way as a slot receiver, he could be in for big things in 2012. 

Despite the 16-point loss in Week 1, Crennel and Co. have shown signs of putting their players in the best position to succeed.


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