View Full Version : Chiefs' Hall still waiting for first big return of '04

10-13-2004, 07:22 PM
Chiefs' Hall still waiting for first big return of '04

Posted on CNNSI.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Dante Hall is too good for his own good sometimes.

After four games a year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs' Pro Bowl return specialist had returned three kicks for touchdowns -- part of a four-game streak that set an NFL record. In four games this season, he hasn't even gotten inside an opponents' 30-yard line on a return.

Hall has only four punt returns, with a 14-yard average and a long return of 26 yards. He is averaging 26 yards on 11 kickoff returns, the longest of those going for 45 yards.

"The first game against Denver, they did a great job kicking the ball out of the end zone [on kickoffs]," he said Wednesday. "Carolina, in the second game, had great coverage. Since then, I've had a couple of good returns called back for penalties."

Opponents are none too eager to kick to Hall, either.

"He's a marked man," coach Dick Vermeil said. "But with patience and consistent work, they eventually will come."

And having wide receiver Eddie Kennison healthy again, freeing Hall to concentrate more on return duties, can't hurt.

Kennison will be available for Sunday's game at Jacksonville, his first appearance since he injured his hamstring in Kansas City's second game. And the Chiefs are coming off a bye week, giving everyone fresher legs.

"Now I can fully focus on my role," Hall said. "You play 40 to 50 snaps a game, that makes it tough."

Hall will still be used in three-wide situations, Vermeil said. And no matter where he is on the field, he'll have the Jaguars' attention.

"He's a very exciting guy -- exciting for the Chiefs, not so exciting for the opponent," coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's been a very dangerous returner, and we'll have to be on top of our game to limit his ability to affect the football game."

The players clearing the way for Hall will also have to do a better job of getting him into the open field, special teams Pro Bowler Gary Stills said.

"It's just a matter of time for him to get his game going," Stills said, "but it all comes back to making key blocks. We need to make better blocks, better decisions -- and that's going to let him take it to the next level and get the touchdowns."

Or perhaps Hall will do it on his own. That's how he set the record, after all -- with a back-and-forth, twisting, 93-yard punt return against Denver in the fifth game of the 2003 season.

"As the season goes, with his innate ability, when we don't block anyone -- that might be the one he returns," Vermeil said.

And so Hall waits, thinking each kick he fields could be the one that breaks the scoring block.

"It's like [running back] Priest Holmes -- when he gets the ball, he doesn't think, 'I'm only going to try to get two or three yards out of this carry,"' Hall said. "Every time he touches the ball, he's going to try to take it to the house.

"That's the same thing with me. That's my role, every time -- to step up and make the big return."