The Kansas City Chiefs are so high on Mecole Hardman that they might limit how much time he spends as a return man. The NFL Network‘s James Palmer reported on Twitter that special teams coordinator Dave Toub and other Chiefs coaches are weighing exactly how they want to use Hardman in the upcoming season.
Toub told Palmer he thinks Hardman is going to see more action as a receiver in 2020. In order to keep him healthy, there are apparently discussions about cutting down on his kick and punt returns.
The special teams coordinator reportedly voiced regret about the idea that Hardman might not return kicks much this season. He told Palmer he thought the player had just “scratched the surface” of his potential as a returner.
Toub’s comments weren’t the first time in the last week that a member of the Chiefs talked glowingly about Hardman, who just finished his rookie season. As The Inquisitr reported earlier, teammate Tyreek Hill believes there’s no ceiling for what the young player can do.
Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk pointed out that plans for Hardman haven’t necessarily solidified. The Chiefs have their top three wideouts returning in 2020. Alper said he thinks that could mean there won’t be a big change in playing time on offense.
The analyst also said that the Chiefs drafted Hardman in the second round because of his versatility. After selecting him, the Chiefs talked about how excited they were about using him on offense and special teams.
Hardman did add a boost to both units in 2019. Last year, he returned 18 punts for 167 yards, averaging 9.3 yards per attempt. His longest punt return of the season was 36 yards. It was as a kick returner where the young player really shone.
He had 27 kick returns for 704 yards, which included a 104-yard return for a touchdown. As a receiver, he played in 16 games and started for five. Harman was just seventh on the team in catches, with 26, but he made the most of those receptions. The receiver had more than 500 yards in his rookie year and scored six touchdowns. The speedster also led the Chiefs by a wide margin when it came to yards per catch.
Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins are all back for another run, meaning Hardman is quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ fourth option through the air. While the Chiefs mostly stood pat at the receiver position, the team did change up its backfield this season.
The front office allowed LeSean McCoy to depart through free agency and drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The first-round draft pick does have some experience as a kick returner. Over the course of his career at LSU, he returned 40 catches for 807 yards. If the Chiefs want to get Hardman more involved in the offense, it appears Edwards-Helaire could spend some time on special teams.