Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster suffered what appeared to be a serious elbow injury, which means backup running back Peyton Hills could see an increased workload as a result.
The Chiefs have had some early struggles, to say the least, and the loss of a serious threat in the passing game is nothing but more bad news.
Let's examine how the freak injury to McCluster will impact the offense and, more importantly, running back Peyton Hillis.
Back to the Running Game
With McCluster out, receiver Steve Breaston will move to the slot and Jonathan Baldwin will see an increased workload.
The problem with this strategy is neither receiver has been an effective option for the offense.
Both Breaston and Baldwin have not combined for double-digit catches this season and together hardly have more than 100 yards combined.
This is not to say that other players cannot step up in McCluster's absence, but they have not shown enough yet to be relied upon to win games. This means there will be more of a focus on the running game for Kansas City in the coming weeks.
Jamaal Charles' Health
Two years ago Charles was one of the best running back in the game, rushing for 1,467 yards, but he seriously injured his knee early last season.
The potential for Charles to still be one of the best is there. In the same game McCluster was hurt, Charles was well on his way to rushing for more than 200 yards on more than 20 carries.
For Charles to stay healthy, he is not going to be able to handle the load on his own. Fifteen carries a game is a safer bet for Charles to remain healthy.
In the past, Charles has been his best when sharing the load with a power back, which is where Hillis is so useful. Reducing Charles' carries will preserve his health and boost Hillis' value.
With McCluster out of the way and Charles on a pitch count to keep him healthy for an entire season, Hillis should now see in the neighborhood of 150 carries.
While Charles carries the majority of the load, Hillis can be effective in a spot role, carrying the ball in short-yardage situations and on the goal line.
If Charles and the passing game are effective, it is not unreasonable to think that Hillis could hit right around the same numbers he did a season ago.
Projected Stats: 155 attempts, 550 yards, six touchdowns
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