By Matt Derrick
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs running back Damien Williams prefers playing football to watching others play on TV. But he remembers watching new teammate LeSean McCoy during his heyday with the Philadelphia Eagles, particularly the snowy December afternoon in 2013 when McCoy galloped through the Detroit Lions defense in whiteout conditions for a career-high 217 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“That’s a good game to watch,” Williams said before practice on Thursday. “But other than I really didn’t watch too much football. But that was a game that stood out just because he did his thing.”
McCoy continues doing his thing at age 31 after 10 seasons in the league, and now he’s doing it in Kansas City. His arrival in the Chiefs backfield changes the outlook for head coach Andy Reid’s expected running-by-committee approach, yet Williams, the man likely impacted the most by the move see it as a “great addition.”
“With him being a vet and being already behind Andy, me being a vet and this is my second year behind Andy — I feel like us two alone, me picking his head, the younger guys picking our heads, I feel like it’s going to be a great system,” Williams said.
The Chiefs were poised to enter the season with Williams as their unquestioned starter followed on the depth chart by rookie Darwin Thompson and second-year back Darrel Williams. Veteran free agent Carlos Hyde found himself on the bubble after an uneven preseason performance.
When the Buffalo Bills released McCoy on Saturday morning, however, the situation changed quickly. Reid and general manager Brett Veach have a history with McCoy, and it didn’t take long for the parameters of a deal to fall into place. That made Hyde expendable, and the Chiefs dealt him to Houston for offensive lineman Martinas Rankin. Williams heard about McCoy’s addition before he learned of the Hyde trade.
“I look at it with him here or Carlos here, I felt like we have a great backfield,” Williams said. “I just felt like it was a great addition.”
Williams approves of the move despite the fact it foreshadows less playing time for him down the road. Reid indicated as much on Monday when the team introduced McCoy to the media.
“The way we’ll work that situation is that we’re lucky to have Damien here who we consider a starter as we do Shady,” Reid said. “I think it’s a great situation to be in, really for both of them and the football team. They don’t know each other, but they’ll get to know each other here and I know they will work well together.”
That process of the players getting to know each other began in earnest on Wednesday, and Williams said the initial meetings went well.
“It’s interesting just to hear his stories and how he sees things, because he used to be in this offense with Andy,” Williams said. “It’s good just being able to pick his head.”
How much the Chiefs plan to utilize McCoy in the season opener remains to be determined. The Chiefs don’t feel rushed to put him on the field before he’s comfortable within the offense, explained offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
“First of all, you want to see exactly what’s going to stick, what information he’s going to retain,” Bieniemy said. “We just want to make sure when we’re utilizing LeSean that we’re giving him the best opportunity to be himself, but also, too, we got some talented kids here that have done a heck of a job.”
McCoy spent the first four years of his career with Reid in Philadelphia, but he hasn’t played in the offense in nearly seven years. Some of the offense remains the same, but there’s plenty of new plays and concepts to pick up. That means Williams may continue shouldering a bigger chunk of the work early in the season.
“They both have an opportunity to play,” Reid said. “I’m not going to put (McCoy) out there in a bad situation without knowing the plays. I would never do that. We got other guys that can play too, I’m not saying that. That’s where we’re at.”
Bieniemy said his conversations with Williams about his role on the team have been “outstanding.”
“One thing that we take a lot of pride in here is that our guys understand the big picture,” Bieniemy said. “This ain’t about the individual. This is about the organization and the team. We always want to concentrate and do what is best for us that’s going to give us the best opportunity to win every Sunday.”
Williams already sees in McCoy a competitive player similar to himself and the young backs behind them on the depth chart. That should be a harbinger of success this season, Williams believes.
“I feel like we’re all competitive guys,” he said. “Just with McCoy being here already, we’ve been talking a little smack a little bit, he’s a competitive person as well. I feel like if we’re all competing to go out there and be the best back, I feel like we put pressure on each other then who knows what we can do.”