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Running back Knile Davis offers Chiefs a breath of fresh air

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, at 10:22 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, at 1:41 p.m.

Knile Davis didn’t think the altitude in Denver would be a big deal. Sure, he’d heard teammates talk about it and reporters ask questions about it, but really, how much of an impact could it have?

“You know what’s funny? I didn’t think that it was (a big deal), I thought people were just saying that,” said Davis, a rookie running back. “But in warm-ups, it’s different. You’re breathing, you know, and your lungs (feel it).”

Yet Davis, a 5-foot-10, 227-pounder who ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and was taken in the third round of April’s NFL Draft, probably owes the altitude to some of his increased playing time on Sunday, when he played the most offensive snaps (12) he’s had in a game since the Chiefs’ 28-2 win over Jacksonville in the season opener.

“Jamaal (Charles), he can only do so much,” Davis said of the Chiefs’ star. “And plus, it was a different environment with the altitude, so every time he had a long run or too many (straight) plays, I just stepped in and jumped in for him.”

Davis made he most of his opportunities, too, rushing three times for 13 yards and catching a pass for 11 yards.

On the latter, Davis caught a screen pass in the left flat and nearly scored before he was chopped down by linebacker Danny Trevathan at the Broncos’ 2-yard line.

“When I caught the ball and turned my head around, I just saw a touchdown — I didn’t even see the guy that made the tackle,” Davis said. “I probably should have cut it back — I may have scored.”

It’s also relevant that Davis said the play was designed for him, despite the fumbling issues and dropped passes he had in training camp and the fact he wasn’t asked to catch the ball much in college at Arkansas.

“I was the runner, that’s what I was,” Davis said of his time as a Razorback. “But I like catching the ball, I like getting the ball, so any way I can get the ball, I’m cool with it.”

To that end, Davis said he’s worked hard to become an all-round back, someone who can be a threat out of the backfield and in the return game.

“Those are things I haven’t done all the years I’ve been playing football,” Davis said. “But I’m working on it, I’m improving. That’s all you can ask for.”

The Chiefs seem to be rewarding him for that work, as they also trusted Davis — who muffed his first career kickoff return against Dallas in week two — on a handful of kick returns on Sunday.

“Usually Quintin (Demps) starts it off, but he’s getting more playing time and when he needs a breather, I just jump back there,” Davis said. “Kinda like Jamaal.”

Speaking of Charles, who is the Chiefs’ most dynamic and consistent offensive threat, Davis is optimistic he will continue to receive opportunities as the season goes on. Charles remains headed toward an astronomical 376-touch workload this year, and Davis — who was drafted because of his unique size-speed combination as a runner — has been studying him closely to soak up whatever knowledge he can in case he’s needed.

“I respect Jamaal,” Davis said. “I’ve been watching Jamaal for the longest. He’s tough, he’s just got that dog in him. I’m learning a lot from him.”

One lesson Davis can take from Charles is how to find the end zone.

Charles is on track to finish with eight touchdowns this season, and after he came so close to scoring against Denver on Sunday, Davis is just itching to score his first career NFL touchdown.

“Hopefully it comes this weekend,” Davis said of the Chiefs’ upcoming showdown against San Diego. “I feel like they’re putting me in more, I’m learning the playbook, and they’ve given me some confidence, so I’m trying to get in that thing.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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