McCluster: Chiefs' speedster sees exciting change for team

6/13/2013

McCluster: Chiefs' speedster sees exciting change for team

McCluster: Chiefs' speedster sees exciting change for team

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

There's nothing like change to know when it can be good, or bad.

The Kansas City Chiefs' Dexter McCluster is one who should know.

Selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, McCluster, a speedy combination running back/wide receiver/return specialist, is now on his third head coach in four seasons.

This time, his boss is former Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, and McCluster, who was one of the top performers at Ole Miss in the Southeastern Conference, couldn't be happier.

"It's been very exciting," said McCluster, who was in Garden City on Wednesday to sign autographs as part of the week long grand opening celebration at Menards. "We started offseason training about two months ago. I've met all the coaches and they're extraordinary."

It would be safe to say that McCluster is looking for bigger, and better, things from the 2013 edition of the Chiefs, who have been mired in mediocrity for the past two seasons.

In McClusters' rookie season of 2010, the Chiefs managed to win a weak AFC West division title only to be riddled by the Baltimore Ravens, 30-7, in the first round of the playoffs at home in Arrowhead Stadium.

The coach at the time — Todd Haley.

Haley coached the Chiefs through 13 games of the 2011 season before being fired and then it was defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's turn to try and improve the Chiefs.

That didn't work either.

McCluster, whose blazing speed and lightning-quick moves earned him the Prep Player of the Year in the state of Florida, has yet to find his niche, but he sees that about to change.

"This offense is great and it seems endless with all the plays that are in," McCluster said. "One thing about me, I'm a different type of player. I'm not just a set player at one position and I think he's (Reid) going to exploit defenses that way."

In his first three seasons, McCluster had rushed 144 times for 657 yards, his best season coming in 2011 when he had 516 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Utilized more as a receiver, McCluster has caught 21, 46 and 52 yards in each of his three seasons, totaling 989 yards. But the 5-8, 170-pounder is looking at more ways to help the Chiefs in 2013.

"As of now, I've been getting a lot of reps as a punt returner," McCluster said. "I'm very comfortable with that. It's something I love to do. Once I get back in my niche, I think it'll be great. Being versatile can really help. Whatever it may be, I wanna be that guy to make the difference when I'm on the field."

McCluster said he had been impressed with new K.C. quarterback Alex Smith, acquired in an offseason trade from the San Francisco 49ers. Smith, who had been the San Francisco starter before being sidelined for a concussion, never got his starting spot back, being replaced by Kollin Kapernick who led the team to the Super Bowl.

"Things happen for a reason," McCluster said. "It was a big plan that God sat out for us to bring Alex Smith to us. Now we're able to have a great quarterback. He's shown that he's a winner. Things have worked out for us. He knows all of his reads. He's a guy you see leading the Kansas City Chiefs. He can go out and get the job done."

McCluster said that the combination of having a solid core group of returners, along with many newcomers, has made the competition for starting jobs intense.

"With coach Reid and all the players, you just know everybody's hungry," McCluster said. "We all start at square one. Everything is new to us. It will be great to bring this new thing and do extraordinary things with it."

So while McCluster and his teammates look ahead to training camp this summer, it will be an adjustment of playing for his third head coach in four seasons.

"One thing you see from coach Reid is that he knows his offense, the ins and outs, like the back of his hand," McCluster said. "He knows the players he needs to run it. He's laying the road map out there for us. Having that kind of guy who is excited about the offense, its great for an offensive player."

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