The Kansas City Chiefs are entering Week 13 with multiple rookies playing significant roles on the team. Each player is now experiencing their first taste of the depth of the NFL schedule stretching further than the regular NCAA season.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has praised rookie running back Isiah Pacheco’s progress this season, as he has earned the right to be the team’s starting running back since Week 7. As the season has progressed, so have questions about some of the young players in Kansas City hitting what is considered the rookie wall.
Bieniemy knows that it affects a number of new players entering the league each year. He spoke about his own experiences as a rookie and advice for the former Rutgers University standout during Thursday’s press conference.
“The rookie wall is a real thing,” said Bieniemy. “I know I hit it my rookie year, okay? But it doesn’t seem to impact him. I mean, obviously, all the energy that you see after a play, he does the same thing in practice. The kid’s very energized and excited about meetings. He does a good job in the walkthroughs. We’ve got to slow him down at times, and then when he heads to practice, he has a bunch of energy.”
Pacheco has used his energy recently to have consecutive impressive performances. He clinched his first career 100-yard game in Week 11 against the Chargers, inspiring Bienemy with his energy on the field and off of it.
“I want what he has bottled up so I can lose some of this weight moving forward,” Bieniemy joked. “But he’s a heck of a kid, and I knock on wood; I hope the rookie wall does not hit him. He seems to be in a great place right now, mentally as well as physically. And I will add too that he has some great guys in that room who have helped him understand what it takes to become a professional at this level and how to take care of his body. (Running Backs Coach) Greg Lewis, obviously, being a former player now being his coach. Jerick McKinnon, okay? Clyde (Edwards-Helaire), I mean, there’s a lot of guys with a lot of experience in that room that have helped him to understand what it takes and how to survive throughout the course of the season.”
The Chiefs’ coaching staff and roster consist of veteran players who have helped bring along the young core. Pacheco’s ascent has been an essential part of the team’s winning streak, so his energy and activity need to extend for the remainder of the regular season and deep into the postseason.