The recognition keeps pouring in for Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt.
On Thursday, the Chiefs’ top running back –– and the league’s leading rusher –– was named both the AFC’s offensive player of the month and the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month.
Hunt becomes the fourth rookie to be named an offensive player of the month, joining Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions, 1989), Edgerrin James (Indianapolis Colts, 1999) and Mike Anderson (Denver Broncos, 2000).
No Chief, by the way, had ever been named offensive rookie of the month. And people around Kansas City have started to recognize him, too.
“I mean, a lot of people trying to reach out to you and a lot of people end up recognizing you wherever you go if you go to the store or out to eat, anything like that,” Hunt said. “It’s just a lot more people trying to get to know you.”
Hunt, who checks in at 5 feet 10 inches and 208 pounds, has earned the honor after a dynamite start to his career. Through three games, he’s rushed 47 times for 401 yards — an absurd average of 8.5 yards per carry — and four touchdowns, and he’s also caught nine passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also become the first player in NFL history to rack up a 50-plus-yard touchdown for three straight games to open his career.
Hunt is on pace for 299 touches this season, the most by any Chief since Jamaal Charles racked up 329 in 2013. Combined with Hunt’s size, that stout workload has led some to wonder how long he can handle the burden, and he was seen favoring his shoulder at times in recent weeks.
But Chiefs coach Andy Reid doesn’t seem overly concerned about that, saying recently that he likes the way the Chiefs have divvied up the carries.
“With all of our players we try to make sure that we keep in mind how fresh they are and kind of where they’re at physically –– it’s not different for him,” Reid said. “We’ll just see how it goes here down the road. You’ve seen Charcandrick (West) in there and you’ve seen some of the receivers, whether it’s (Thomas) or (Hill) taking some reps. So everybody is kind of working in some spot in there.”
Hunt says he’s doing all he can to keep himself ready, physically. That includes long sessions in the cold tub.
“It starts now just taking care of your body every day and just doing little things,” Hunt sid. “Even when you’re not that sore, you just got to keep working to get your body all the way back together, so you got to take it day by day and week by week.”
Despite the punishment he’s taken in games –– he’s impressed many with his ability to absorb blows and keep going –– Hunt said he also tries to avoid unneccesary big hits whenever possible.
“It’s really angles and leverage pretty much,” Hunt said. “You got to recognize who you’re going against and how to take on a tackle and pretty much you just fill it out.”
It’s in his best interest to keep doing that, because the Chiefs will keep getting him the ball for the foreseeable future –– a prospect that doesn’t worry him.
“If I get more of a workload,” Hunt said, “then oh well, I’m ready for it.”