Junior Hemingway Might be the Key

St, Joseph, MO - On Sunday evening, the Kansas City Chiefs will get a prime time showdown against the Carolina Panthers. One player, who missed the teams exhibition opener, wide receiver Junior Hemingway, will finally get a chance to show off his improving skills. If he takes another leap in 2014, his offensive output could be a driving force behind KC’s offense.

Ever since he arrived in 2012 as a seventh round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver, Junior Hemingway, has shown flashes he can become a productive NFL receiver. All he needed was some coaching and an opportunity to show off his skills.

Though he began his career biding his team between the active roster and the practice squad, Hemingway has shown enough flashes to convince some he might be on the verge of a breakout season. Now that might be a stretch considering he’s managed just 13 career receptions on the NFL but he does have a pair of touchdowns showing his coaching staff, he has red zone skills.

The opportunity for Hemingway in 2014 exists largely based on his evolution as a sure handed receiver and the recent free agent departure of wide receiver, Dexter McCluster. Last year when Hemingway played in the slot, he was more physical than the man he’s replacing this season.

McCluster was small in stature but Hemingway has more height and weight to play that physical game off the line of scrimmage. The other difference is Hemingway is a true wide receiver.

As mentioned, Hemingway missed the first exhibition game against the Cincinnati Bengals with an injury, but was back on the practice field over the weekend with his eyes set on getting up to speed with the offense. After all, sitting out that first game wasn’t something he liked very much.

“It was really hard, really hard. But I was excited for the young guys to get out there, see my team out there playing. I was really excited, but it was a little rough watching them,” Hemingway said.

Injuries are never easy to contend with and Hemingway knows the competition at receiver is fierce. He understands, by missing valuable time in practice, his teammates are well ahead of things at this stage of the game. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to help one another.

“Those are guys that have already been out there. That helps the younger guys as well. All of us, as a unit, as one, we have good chemistry with one another and when we’re out there we can talk to one another through certain situations and things like that, which makes it better for us as receivers,” Hemingway stated.

Last season I was a little miffed as to why Head Coach, Andy Reid, didn’t use Hemingway more on offense. However this year, that likely won’t be the case. It appears that Reid trusts Hemingway much more than he did a year ago. In fact, his game pretty much suits KC’s offense this year because of his ability to play in the slot.

If the Chiefs are going to develop a solid passing attack this season, someone has to step up. It would appear that Dwayne Bowe has locked down one receiver spot and A.J. Jenkins and Donnie Avery appear to be in a battle for the second starting spot.

However, if the Chiefs put their best four receivers on the field both Hemingway and Avery could line up in the slot with Bowe and Jenkins on the outside. That would give the Chiefs both speed and physicality at the position.

Still how much can Chiefs fans expect from a former seventh round pick this year? That might not be answered until he gets back on the field this Sunday night but I have high hopes for Hemingway. I thought he was the Chiefs third best receiver a year ago and should have taken more minutes away from McCluster.

Either way though that’s a mute point. All that Hemingway cares about is getting back on the field and making the most of his opportunity now. Barring any other injury setbacks he’ll get that chance on Sunday night.

Junior Hemingway Photos: Stan Liu (1) & Andrew Weber (2) USA Today Sports

Can Hemingway be a productive receiver for the Chiefs?

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