KANSAS CITY, Missouri. One of the reasons the Kansas City Chiefs selected running back Clyde Edwards-Heler in the first round of the 2020 Draft was his wide receiver skills. Edwards-Hehler showed good hands, trail running skills and a gift for making defensemen miss the open field at LSU, where he caught 55 passes in his final season in 2019.

This ability is finally starting to show in the Chiefs.

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“I am 1010% confident in my hands,” said Edwards-Heler. “I feel like I’m one of the best pass catchers in the league. I stand by this completely. [offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy] and coach [Andy] Reid is trying to make it.”

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Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are more affected this season than in previous seasons. Edwards-Heler is one of the beneficiaries as the first four games of the post-Tyreke Hill era shifted the pass-catching load from wide receivers to tight and early defensemen.

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Tight ends led by Travis Kelsey and running backs have 54% of chiefs catching, 48% of their yards and 82% of touchdowns received. Those numbers are higher than last season, when their backs and tight ends provided 46% of receptions, 43% of yards and 46% of touchdowns.

“This is what we do,” said Edwards-Heler. “We throw the ball to everyone.”

The Chiefs are one of three teams this season with less than 20% of touchdowns coming from wide receivers. No team has finished a season below 20% since the Chiefs had no wide receiver touchdowns in 2014.

The 2004 New York Giants are the only team since 2000 to finish a season under 20%.

The Chiefs’ results are not a complete surprise, given not only that the Chiefs traded Hill (their best positions in each of the last six seasons), but also that two other main wide receivers, Byron Pringle and DeMarcus Robinson, have gone to free agency. .

The Chiefs went free to sign wide receivers Juju Smith-Shuster and Marques Valdez-Scantling. They also selected Sky Moore in the second round.

But in training camp, it was clear that the depth of the Chiefs in terms of player skill was no longer up to par. On the running back, the Chiefs have Edwards-Heler and Jeric McKinnon, as well as one of the camp’s surprise stars, seventh-round rookie Isaiah Pacheco.

In the tight end, the Chiefs not only got Kelsey, but also Jody Fortson, who missed most of last season with an Achilles tendon rupture. Fortson has turned into a solid target for Mahomes in the red zone, as both of Fortson’s catches ended in touchdowns this season.

All three of their tight ends scored touchdowns in last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Chiefs use two tight ends in 30% of their snaps, which is the seventh-highest percentage in the league. They use three tight ends in 12% of their games, more than all but one of the other teams.

“It kind of puts the defense in a quandary,” Mahomes said of the Chiefs’ three-TE formations. “They want to put their core staff on the pitch, they want to put bigger people in because we can run football like we do. [against the Bucs, when the Chiefs ran for 189 yards].

“When they don’t, we need to be able to manage it, and when they do, we have bottlenecks that can separate and run routes. I think you saw it with Jody up there at the goal line against the Pro Bowl turning down the slant and catching him in the end zone. You saw Noah play there. It shows that we have tight ends and when we get Blake [Bell] in the back, we have another guy who can block and still catch.”

Bell did not play this season due to a hip injury. He is eligible to return from the injured reserve and when he returns, the Chiefs will have a fourth tight end. Kelsey said he would lobby Reid to use all four together from time to time.

“I’ll definitely talk to Coach Reid about it,” said Kelsey, who leads the Chiefs with 26 catches and 322 yards. “Scream out the tight end.”

Edwards-Heler is the Chiefs’ top wide receiver among runners with 13 wins. He also shares the team’s lead in receiving touchdowns with Kelsey with three.

But chiefs often use their other two protectors. The Chiefs love McKinnon on the third down for his ability to receive and block passes. Pacheco has broken into the lineup with his running ability, though he has yet to catch a pass.

“We know that Clyde is good and [McKinnon] can play,” Reid said. “These guys are all good, they are all talented.

“It’s more of a learning experience with [Pacheco]and the more you see the more you use him and Clyde on the first descents and [McKinnon] on the third run. He works so well there.”

Edwards-Heler is already approaching the 19 passes he caught last season. As a rookie, he had 36 catches.

Apparently, this season he will easily overcome this number.

“It was something we wanted to do to get out there and show that we can pass the ball,” Edwards-Hehler said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we’re going to go over here and define one thing and try to do it.’ We know who we have as a quarterback and we know all the weapons we have down to the receivers and in the back room.”