View Full Version : Teicher: Hall eager to return to form

10-15-2004, 02:08 AM

Hall eager to return to form

Constant use wears on Chiefs specialist

By ADAM TEICHER The Kansas City Star

When the weather was hot and the season brimmed with all manner of possibilities, the thought of an expanded offensive role was a welcome one to Dante Hall.

Why waste time on the sideline, Hall figured, when he could be the Chiefs' X-factor on offense as well as on kick returns?

Then the season began, and theory gave way to reality. Hall hasn't been himself at either position.

“I was excited about coming in this year and being able to make more plays at receiver,” Hall said. “But I never once said that I wanted to lose my role on special teams.”

In a way, he was. Having to play a regular role at receiver was sapping his energy for returns.

Now, with the Chiefs having a full allotment at receiver for the first time this season, Hall will go back to part-time status for Sunday's game in Jacksonville.

He couldn't be happier about it.

“Now that our receivers are healthy, I can get back to being me,” Hall said. “The real me is more aggressive on special teams, maybe taking a few more chances as far as reversing field. When you don't have the energy, it's hard to be me.”

During the off-season, the Chiefs thought that one way to squeeze more production from the passing game would be to get more from Hall, a star as a kick returner and an occasional contributor on offense.

They had no choice but to make Hall a starter when injuries ended Marc Boerigter's season and kept Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison out of the lineup for extended periods.

In four games, however, Hall has had just nine catches for 73 yards, with a longest of 12 yards.

Worse yet, he hasn't had the same impact as last year while playing on special teams. His return averages on punts (14.0 yards) and kickoffs (23.0) are acceptable, but he hasn't come close to busting one for a touchdown, as he did five times last season, including the playoffs.

The constant use wore down the 5-foot-8, 187-pound Hall.

“I was excited at first to be starting, but I didn't realize how much it would drain me,” Hall said. “I'm going full speed on every play, every blocking play, every route. I'd like to take some chances on special teams, but I just don't have it there.

“Now I see why they don't put their best guys on all these phases. You get worn down. We had 78 offensive plays in the Ravens game. There were a couple of times when I just didn't have the energy to bring (a kickoff) out. It wasn't that I thought the kick was too deep in the end zone. I just knew I had to go play a lot of offense.”

Hall thinks reduced offensive expectations will make a difference.

“Before, I didn't want to (over)extend myself on offense, and I didn't want to (over)extend myself on special teams,” he said. “I've been trying to balance it out. Now that we've got Eddie back, I can become more aggressive on the special teams. I'm not going to be concerned with how much energy I have for a two-minute drill or something like that.”

Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil wasn't as certain Hall was about his being overworked.

“We've done a good job of rotating him in ballgames and keeping him fresh for the kick returns, but I really think we've got to find (an opposing) punter and place-kicker that'll provide the kind of ball it takes to return them,” Vermeil said. “His best returns have been called back because of penalties. The best punt return has been called back. But sooner or later as the season goes, on his own innate ability when we don't block anybody, it might be the one he returns.

“People are doing a better job of defending Dante Hall. He has a lot of credibility and prestige in the league. Will the returns come? I think they will. Will we get four in a row? No. It's only happened one other time. But I do believe we'll get a return (for a TD) before it's all over.”

If Hall doesn't run one back soon, his run of two straight Pro Bowl appearances will be in jeopardy. Hall watched with the rest of the Chiefs as Baltimore rookie B.J. Sams returned a punt for a touchdown in the recent Monday night game.

Sams returned another punt for a touchdown last week against Washington, making him the most serious challenger to Hall's title as the game's best returner.

“He's good, real good,” Hall said. “But I'll tell you one thing: He doesn't have that bull's-eye on him yet. I guarantee you he's going to have it now. It will be interesting to see how he does now. People are coming a little faster at you. They come a little harder. It's different.”

10-15-2004, 07:23 AM
Hall was at his best when he started his returns near top speed and ready to make one good cut to get in the clear.

He stopped doing that during the middle of last season except for his return in the playoff game.

It probably has less to do with fatigue and more to do with losing confidence in his ST blockers and him taking more hits since his streak last year.

10-15-2004, 07:32 AM
Sounds like Dick is still a little lost regarding this issue and remains in denial. Wake up Dick, use him for returns and Horn as WR. A few plays per game is fine, but his roll as of late has prevented him from doing justice at either position.

10-15-2004, 09:37 AM
Sounds like Dick is still a little lost regarding this issue and remains in denial. Wake up Dick, use him for returns and Horn as WR. A few plays per game is fine, but his roll as of late has prevented him from doing justice at either position.

I concur.

10-15-2004, 09:49 AM
Dick is very stubborn.