While Kadarius Toney struggled in Thursday’s season opener and had a number of uncharacteristic, and critical, drops, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid has no plans to limit Toney’s role moving forward.
When the Chiefs take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon in Florida, Toney will be there as normal.
“The only way we’re going to get him back is by playing him,” Reid said Monday, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “I think you’ll see better as we go down the road here from him.”
Toney dropped a number of seemingly simple catches in the Chiefs’ 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thursday night, including one on their final drive that could have put them in field-goal range and another that was intercepted by Lions safety Brian Branch and returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Toney finished the night making just one catch for a single yard. He was targeted five times. The Chiefs had five drops as a team in the game — three of them belonged to Toney — which was tied for the third most in any game in quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ career.
Naturally, Toney drew plenty of criticism for his performance. He even deleted a social media account the next morning.
“That’s just not his thing,” Reid said. “He’s not a guy that drops balls. He’s got great hands, so we just got to keep working through it.”
Toney was traded to the Chiefs midway through last season in a deal with the New York Giants. He had 171 receiving yards on 14 catches and two touchdowns in seven games in Kansas City last year. He ran back a punt 65 yards in their Super Bowl win in February, which was the longest in the game’s history, too.
The 24-year-old is in the third year of a four-year, $13.7 million deal he first signed with the Giants.
Toney’s status was questionable heading into the Chiefs’ season opener, too, after offseason meniscus surgery. He missed all of training camp and the preseason, and didn’t return to practice until days before last week’s game.
Though that’s not an excuse for his drops, Reid is taking a bit of the blame.
“I thought him getting in the game was important, but to be fair I’ve kind of got to look in the mirror on that one,” Reid said. “I probably didn’t put him in the best position there because he doesn’t drop the ball. That’s just not his deal. He’s a very, very secure catcher. … I thought it was important that he got in the game, got caught up on the speed, but I probably put him in bad positions there, especially later in the game. He’s still getting his legs back and all that.”
The Chiefs will take on the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon in Florida. Jacksonville won its season opener over the Indianapolis Colts 31-21 on Sunday. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is still recovering from a right knee injury he sustained in practice last week, too. It’s unclear if he will play.