With injuries to wide receivers Marc Boerigter and Johnnie Morton early in the pre-season a year ago, Hall was pressed into a larger role in the offense last season, spending more time on the field than he or Coach Dick Vermeil had anticipated.
The season was marred by a terrible series of bad plays, frustration, a lip injury and a wicked shot by safety John Lynch of the Broncos in the season opener. On what was probably the most frustrating play of the season, Hall fumbled a sure kick return that would have resulted in a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers at home. Instead he dropped the ball and failed to reach the end zone and that seamed to sum up his 2004 season.
For the diminutive Hall, the burden was exceptionally taxing. He expends so much energy on kick returns that any extended role as a receiver diminishes his ability to be the special player that he is on special teams. Hall was already mentioning that he was worn out by training camp. When he is at his best, he consistently gives the explosive Chiefs offense less field to cover and can even be a game changer with a well timed return for a touchdown.
In the offensive game, Hall is at his best when a playing a limited role. His best plays are ones which get the ball into his hands quickly, like bubble screens, end-around plays or short routes that minimize his exposure the bigger players of the opposing defense. While his smaller stature can offer an advantage, making him difficult to find, it also places him in harm’s way. Don’t get me wrong, Hall is a football player, and taking hits is a part of the game. His value, however, is too great in the kicking game to risk unnecessarily.
Dante Hall is a special football player. His unprecedented string of kick returns for touchdowns in 2003 may never be matched. Hall has returned more kicks for touchdowns than some NFL franchises. His game changing ability is there with the great players in this league. How many players in the league bring people to their feet to watch, not only at home, but in opposing stadiums?
For this upcoming season, the Kansas City Chiefs will have a nice stable of speedy, sure-handed receivers. With returning veterans Eddie Kennison, Sammie Parker, and a healthy Marc Boerigter, along with the addition of Craphonso Thorpe, the Chiefs will have more talent at the receiver position than ever. That means they will rely on Hall much less in the offensive game. A fresher Dante Hall is a very dangerous Dante Hall. With Kansas City’s potent offense and improved defense, a dangerous Dante Hall means the rest of the NFL should be on notice.