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Chiefs RB Pacheco, a 7th-rounder, making most of his chances

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco is the poster child for why NFL general managers don’t hand out early draft picks to running backs.

The fact that the seventh-round pick replaced a 2020 first-round pick underscores this.

After showing brilliant flashes in training camp, Pacheco has passed Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the unofficial depth chart in Kansas City and scored the majority of carries on game day. He had season-high 16 carries for 82 yards against Jacksonville last week when Edwards-Helaire never stood a chance with the ball in his hands.

“I definitely worked on it every week to get a feel for different teams and different plans,” Pacheco said.

“For me it’s the same attitude every day when I come into the building: go to work, go to the practice ground, give 100 percent, so when it comes to game day, go at a high level.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week it was not intentional that Edwards Helaire, their 2020 first-round pick, didn’t get a carry against Jacksonville or that his only two goals in the passing game fell incomplete.

At one point, Edwards-Helaire was supposed to be in for an entire series, but the Chiefs went three-and-out.

Still, it’s not hard to notice that Pacheco was simply more productive. He has 60 carries for 279 yards, which is more yards than the Buccaneers’ Rachaad White from the third round with exactly the same number of carries. Pacheco’s average of 4.7 yards per attempt is half a yard more than Edwards-Helaire this season.

Pretty good returns from the 251st player picked in the April draft.

“He’s learning along the way, but he’s had some good snaps,” Reid said. “It’s worked out well where Clyde gets reps and he gets reps and I think that’s healthy. We can throw fastballs at the guys and then (Jerick McKinnon) jumps in and does his thing more on third downs.

“We’re just going to keep taking him,” Reid said, “but I like his progress.”

The fact that Pacheco was the penultimate running back selected in the draft — the last if you count the Chargers’ Zander Horvath as a fullback — is a little hard to believe.

Pacheco tested better than almost every other running back at the NFL Scouting Combine, posting the best time in the 40-yard dash at 4.37 seconds despite his 215-pound frame.

Part of that may have to do with his inconsistent stint at Rutgers, where Pacheco hasn’t surpassed 169 carries in any of his four seasons. Some teams just might not have had enough tape on him to fully realize his potential.

However, time has proven that where players are drafted – especially running backs – there is little predictability of success or failure.

Sure, league-leading rusher Saquon Barkley was the Giants’ No. 2 pick in 2018, and the Titans’ Derrick Henry had been a second-round pick two years earlier.

But four of the top 12 running backs by yardage this season went fourth round or later, including the Dolphins’ Jeff Wilson, who was not drafted at all.

The top two running backs won in April, Breece Hall of the Jets and Kenneth Walker III of the Seahawks, were picked in the second round and had dynamic debuts — though Hall is lost due to a season-ending knee injury.

But Pacheco has more rushing yards than 16 running backs drafted before him this year.

“I’ve said it throughout camp, we’re pushing each other to get better,” McKinnon said, “and it’s something that’s ongoing and I think when that person gets called it shows that they understand the situation.” has grown.”

Or bounced back after a mistake.

That was the case when Pacheco fumbled early in the Chiefs’ 27-17 win over Jacksonville. Instead of hanging his head on the sidelines, Pacheco vowed to make up for the slip.

And in a sign of how much Reid trusts him, the Chiefs went right back to Pacheco when they got another chance with the ball.

“It just showed me that I can be something on this offense,” Pacheco said. “I just have to keep working on it.”

NOTES: WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion log) and Mecole Hardman (stomach injury), and WR Chris Lammons (concussion log) did not practice Thursday. … Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub said Kadarius Toney will return punts going forward. “He has to do some things with reads, but that’s part of the learning experience,” Toub said. “He’s going to get better but he’s a little bit in-hand with the ball.”

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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