Kansas City Chiefs Who Must Step Up After Dexter McCluster Injury

Lou RomContributor ISeptember 23, 2012

September 23, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) breaks away from New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The extent of Dexter McCluster's injury in the Kansas City Chiefs matchup with the New Orleans Saints is uncertain, but should he not return for a few weeks several players must step up to help salvage what is turning into a bleak season for the Chiefs.

McCluster hurt his arm when he landed awkwardly on it while trying to snare a catch that he eventually fumbled and was recovered for a touchdown by the Saints.

With his injury, the Chiefs now have had three running backs go down, and all the pressure falls on Matt Cassel to right the ship.

Cassel has performed fairly well despite his team's 0-2 start.

He's averaged about 275 yards per game, throwing three TDs and four picks while completing 58 percent of his passes.

But Cassel needs to improve in the red zone, with only one touchdown this season, and he'll do that by spreading the ball around, which typically has been a strength of his.

Franchise wideout Dwayne Bowe should help Cassel shoulder the load.

Coming into today's game Bowe had 11 grabs for 155 yards and two touchdowns. On Sunday, he caught another seven for 79 yards.

Bowe is Cassel's go-to guy, and is no pace for another 1,000-yard season. But he's going to need to return to his 2010 form of 15 touchdowns to help the Chiefs compete,

Last year he only found the end zone five times, and that needs to at least double for the Chiefs to be a passing threat.

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles apparently got the memo on stepping up his game.

Charles, who is playing on a recently reconstructed knee, is tearing up the Saints with 233 yards on 33 carries and one touchdown as Kansas City tries to avoid going 0-3.

Charles' resume today includes an amazing 91-yard jaunt in which he took a simple handoff while running left, slipped a few tacklers and by the 25-yard line had 10 yards between him and the nearest defender who had a chance to stop him.

Charles' knee remained a question mark with just 90 yards in two games, but his performance Sunday suggests he is 100 percent healed.