How Kadarius Toney is affecting Chiefs — and his teammates: ‘It just gets me fired up’

John Locher/AP

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Kadarius Toney found himself not wanting to leave the field. Not yet anyway.

A few minutes after the Chiefs’ 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Toney stopped at the corner of the northeast tunnel at Allegiant Stadium to sign a red Chiefs flag, then worked across to an adjacent section, where he autographed the numbers on the back of a fan’s Patrick Mahomes jersey.

When he started to jog back toward the locker room after that, Toney slowed his pace when some people began to yell down at him from the crowd.

Toney raised his fist and pumped it in the air a few times, encouraging that roar a few more seconds before disappearing beneath the concourse.

It was a fitting end to a productive day for Toney, who scored a touchdown and flashed some of his best moments since joining the Chiefs following a midseason trade with the New York Giants.

Afterward, Toney said days like Saturday made him appreciate this new opportunity with the Chiefs.

“It’s been a great experience. I can’t lie,” Toney said in the locker room. “It’s been a great experience to be here and be accepted by the team and the coaches and the staff and everybody believing in me.”

There certainly were doubts about how helpful Toney could be this season when he was acquired for a third- and sixth-round draft pick in late October.

The Giants — starving for receiver production — had seemingly given up on him one year after he was selected as the 20th overall pick in the 2021 draft. Part of that included question marks about his injury history and ability to play through ailments.

But a new start with the Chiefs hasn’t just been embraced by Toney; it’s also been a source of pride for teammates who have watched him develop through the last half of this season.

“It just gets me fired up,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said, “because the excitement of seeing somebody new come into this offense and have fun and have a lot of success, it just makes the game that much more fun to play with the guys.”

Chiefs coaches and teammates certainly enjoyed watching Toney perform on Saturday.

The receiver’s most impressive play was on an outside pass, as he stopped abruptly to juke a pair of defenders before gaining extra yards. ESPN announcers Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky joked on the broadcast that the Madden NFL video game didn’t have a controller button to allow that kind of move, even in a fantasy football world.

“He’s a special type of talent,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “That’s different than any player that I think I’ve played with as far as the way that laterally he’s able to move.”

Toney also scored a touchdown on KC’s trick “Ring around the Rosie” play before it was called back because of a holding penalty. Coach Andy Reid went right back to him for a jet sweep on the next snap ... and Toney made another defender miss before scoring on an 11-yard run.

“I’m tired, then he called the play ... ‘Let’s go then,’” Toney said. “You get that second wind, just as a competitor. You get that second wind and try to go out there as hard as you can.”

The receiver made the most of his time on the field while playing 16 non-garbage-time snaps against Las Vegas. Toney had three carries for 26 yards with the touchdown while adding two catches for 18 yards.

“Definitely is a baller,” KC running back Isiah Pacheco said of Toney. “He’s finishing his drives, finishing his plays. Even when the ball’s not thrown to him, he’s helping teammates up. That’s the type of energy we need.”

Toney said he often leans on Kelce to hype him up during games. More than anything, Toney was looking to fit in with what the Chiefs already have going.

“It’s me just falling in line, falling in the rotation of what I got to do,” Toney said, “and playing at a high level when it’s time.”

This certainly seems an opportune moment for him to be peaking.

The Chiefs will begin the playoffs in two weeks following a bye, giving Reid more time to find creative ways to implement Toney into the offense.

In the last two weeks, Toney has lined up in the backfield and also sprinted in motion. Reid noted on Saturday that Toney was “tough to bring down” and had “great quickness.”

“He’s got the receiving part, and then you hand him the football, and he can do some damage,” Reid said. “And he loves to play. That’s the thing you appreciate about him.”

Toney reiterated Saturday he feels fully healthy after a hamstring injury that kept him out of three combined games in November and December.

Now, he wants to continue producing for the team that acquired him. Toney said he loves hearing “Home of the Chiefs” from KC fans at the end of the national anthem at home and road games. He also smiles after being told that Riddick and Orlovsky had a conversation on Saturday’s ESPN broadcast where they referenced that Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said Toney might turn out to be KC’s most talented receiver.

“Stuff like that just makes me kind of go harder,” Toney said. “Because if he can see it from afar, it just makes me want to prove it for him.”

And as for what Chiefs fans can expect from him in the playoffs?

Toney grinned before answering that question Saturday.

“I guess,” he said, “you just seen it today.”

Teammates hope to witness more highlights like that in the games to come.

“When he’s out there making plays like that, those are momentum-boosters. Those are plays that you don’t get from a majority of the guys in the league,” Kelce said. “That’s what makes him special.”