Chiefs WR Montrell Washington takes over at returner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Next man up includes opportunities for players to step into a new role.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and starting return man Richie James was placed on injured reserve going into their Week 3 matchup with the Chicago Bears.

Second-year wide receiver Montrell Washington was signed to the practice squad right before the start of the season. The Samford product was a fifth-round draft pick for the Denver Broncos last season and garnered 271 punt return yards and 340 kick return yards as a rookie.

He was waived at the end of training camp.

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For the Bears game, he was called up from the practice squad via standard elevation that allows three call-ups a year for a player from the practice squad.

Against the Bears, he gained 33 yards on three punt returns including a 23-yard punt return that gave a jolt to the offense in the first quarter.

“My role is to be a return man, I can do that,” Washington said.

“For me to be able to go out there and return the ball and get good field position for these guys, couldn’t ask for more.”

For a player like Washington who may not get a lot of offensive reps at receiver, he treasures the role he has as a returner to bring something extra to the team on special teams. His teammates showed their appreciation for him after his first-quarter return.

“It was big,” Washington said. “Being a punt returner… you’re the spark. You start the offense off. You gotta be a spark when you’re a guy back there. The fact that I was able to get guys excited, ready to go out there and make plays, that’s my job. That’s all I wanted to do.”

Because of his quality performance, the Chiefs signed number 12 to the active roster permanently on Wednesday which came as a surprise to him.

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“Found out [Tuesday], came in, signed the papers for it and I was shocked myself,” Washington said.

“I thought I was just filling in for this week, maybe next, and was able to get called up and do the job.”

“Was good to see Montrell Washington,” head coach Andy Reid said after the game on Sunday. We haven’t seen him do his thing here, so he went out and had a couple of nice returns and I thought (he) did a good job. He looked very secure with the ball.”

For a Chiefs return game that had its share of problems last season, Washington has the speed, the confidence and the ability to make the return game a plus for the defending Super Bowl champs this season.

Since Washington’s main focus is returning, he hasn’t quite gotten the offense down yet for him to catch passes. But he knows that moment can come at any time.

“If I’m not, I gotta get ready.”

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