Who would have thought the Kansas City Chiefs would be leading the AFC West after an 0-3 start?
With the loss of Pro Bowlers Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry, the slow start set the Chiefs back. However, the Chiefs did not throw in the towel, as 10 players have stepped up to the plate to help Kansas City take first place in the AFC West.
These are 10 players who started off slow or were not given much of an opportunity this season, but have since stepped up.
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Chiefs fans were really disappointed when they learned that Charles' season ended early due to a torn ACL. There was no hope of Thomas Jones getting the job done, nor did anyone have a lot of confidence in Dexter McCluster.
Jackie Battle began to shine in Week 5 after running for 119 yards against the Indianapolis Colts to help seal a win.
Battle also put together a strong performance against the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers to help the Chiefs increase their winning streak.
When Charles returns next season, he and Battle will try to help the Chiefs go back to becoming the top-ranked rushing team in the league.
It didn’t seem as if Le’Ron McClain was playing like the way he did in Baltimore where he was voted to the Pro Bowl twice. Monday night was a big night for McClain, as he came away with a 14-yard catch at one point to help the Chiefs move the chains.
He came through in Oakland by helping the Chiefs earn their first rushing touchdown of the season.
McClain tweeted to his followers that the Chiefs would put together a winning streak following their 0-3 start. So far, that prediction is going well for him.
Steve Breaston got things going in Week 3 when he caught a 43-yard pass from Matt Cassel to put the Chiefs inside the 5-yard line.
Breaston has come away with several other big catches and had a two-touchdown game against the Colts to help construct a comeback win after trailing by 17 points at halftime.
Breaston, who played under Todd Haley when he was the offensive coordinator in Arizona, was able to get on the same page as Cassel to help improve the passing game.
Jonathan Baldwin made his NFL debut last in Week 7, but had no effect on the outcome of the game.
In Baldwin’s first game at Arrowhead Stadium, he did not fail to make a first impression. Although Baldwin did drop a couple of passes, he ran a nice route and jumped high to snag a great throw from Cassel in the end zone for the first touchdown of the game on Monday night against the Chargers.
Not having Baldwin looks like it hurt the Chiefs early in the season. With Breaston playing well with Dwayne Bowe, Cassel now has another reliable target in Baldwin as the Chiefs hope to use these three to stay on top of the AFC West.
It was hard to figure out why the new regime drafted Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick in 2009. It would be hard to say that Jackson is playing like a third overall player, but he has come alive for the Chiefs at the defensive line lately and has played better than he normally has.
Jackson has been able to get some pressure on opposing quarterbacks and helped create penetration when Kelly Gregg earned his first sack of the season in Oakland.
At this rate, it appears that Jackson is playing slightly better than Aaron Curry, who many football fans in Kansas City wanted the Chiefs to draft back in 2008.
His career has been a roller coaster, but now he is climbing up as one of the best inside linebackers in the game today. From a defensive standpoint, Johnson has been a big factor in helping the Chiefs win.
Against the Raiders, Johnson came up with three goal-line stands including a huge stop on fourth down against Michael Bush.
On Monday night against the Chargers, Johnson got his first interception and sack on the season.
Johnson could earn his first Pro Bowl bid if he keeps up his level of play.
Andy Studebaker hasn’t done a whole lot this season. His most notable play was this past Monday night when he recovered the miracle fumble.
If you watch the video on this slide, you will notice that Studebaker jumps on top of a couple of players. He goes on top of a dog pile, only to dig his way down and recover the fumble.
Not many players make the effort to fight for a loose ball, even if it means starting from top of the pile.
Had Studebaker not recovered that ball, San Diego would have most likely kept it and won in Arrowhead for a season sweep over the Chiefs.
Brandon Flowers did not play well early in the season. He gave up seven touchdowns early this season.
Flowers found a turning point against the Raiders when he came away with two interceptions, with one of them taken back for a touchdown.
Flowers currently has four interceptions and has learned from the errors he has made this season.
It seemed as if the Chiefs were going to have a thin core of safeties after it was announced that Eric Berry would miss the season with a torn ACL. Fans were unsure of what they should expect out of second-year safety Kendrick Lewis without his safety draft classmate.
Lewis managed to help out the Chiefs by coming away with takeaways of his own.
Lewis is responsible for three of the 13 interceptions Kansas City has collected this year. He has already reached his total from his rookie season.
One can only imagine just how scary Lewis and Berry would be if they were together.
Ryan Succop got off to a very shaky start in the first three weeks. Succop made only two of his five attempted field goals and knew he was on the chopping block.
But Succop immediately turned things around and has successfully made his last eight field goals.
Succop’s biggest kick took place this Monday night, as he helped seal the miracle win over the Chargers. It was Succop’s third career game-winning field goal in overtime.