KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The release of running back Kareem Hunt left a void in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room.
A starter was gone, yes. But many felt on the field the Chiefs looked a bit out of sync last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Now, the Chiefs turn to a familiar face who could help on the field and brighten up the culture of the locker room that seemed a bit down when one of its brightest stars was sent away.
Charcandrick West was signed Monday, one day after Kansas City topped the Raiders 40-33. West was with the Chiefs for the past four years but was released in the preseason after the Chiefs wrapped up training camp in St. Joseph.
“Charcandrick comes to work every day with a smile on his face, great energy. Big time energy giver. That’s what he does,” coach Andy Reid said. “He can play, too. I don’t want to slight him on that. He has always been an energy guy and always comes to work with a smile on his face, loves to practice. All those intangible things, he’s got.”
West missed the majority of camp with a concussion. He signed with the New York Jets shortly after his release but was cut after a week.
He hasn’t signed with a team since, but over the weekend, the Chiefs came calling.
“Anything they need me to (do)” West said. “If it’s a smile, if it’s a touchdown, a first down, a kickoff return or kickoff, I’m just happy to be here.”
The fifth-year pro has 999 rushing yards on 266 carries with seven touchdowns. In 2015, West started nine games after running back Jamaal Charles went down with a torn ACL.
For the past two seasons, West spent time as a backup running back. But the Chiefs brought in plenty of guys in the backfield this offseason to bolster that spot.
West was one of the players let go.
“If it wasn’t for injuries, I probably wouldn’t even be standing here in the position that I’m in,” West said. “That’s the game. It’s life, I just took my bullet and kept going.”
Neither Reid nor West were worried about the playing shape of West, as the Chiefs move into the final quarter of the regular season. Yet, they both understand his football fitness might not be there right now.
But West kept himself in shape. He said he’d play in a game right now if he’s asked to, but he’ll settle for being back at practice.
“It’s like coming home. I went on a little vacation, and I came back to all of my brothers and Chiefs Kingdom, period,” West said. “I told them, thank you, we’re 10-2 now, thank you for doing all of the hard work, but I’m back now.”
With Hunt out, the Chiefs moved Spencer Ware back into the starting role. Ware and West provided a 1-2 punch during the 2016 season that helped the Chiefs win an AFC West division title.
Two years later, it’s possible the two could help bring the team a Super Bowl ring.
“He brings energy at all times, you will never see him not smiling,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “He’s a great guy, but also, he’s a great player. He knows this offense really, really well, so you’ll have trust with him Day 1 if he needs to be in there because he knows this offense, he knows what we need to do.”