Last season we saw the best and the worst from Dexter McCluster. In his NFL debut he had a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown and in the Chiefs playoff loss to the Ravens his biggest play was a crushing hit that ended with McCluster losing a fumble. The elusive McCluster told the Star he’s ready for 2011 after his up and down rookie season.
“The main thing I learned is I have to know my stuff. I played running back and I played wide receiver and I played slot receiver, so I have to know a lot to be on top of my game. That was the major adjustment for me. They’re not looking for excuses.”
He had one of those handy. A high ankle sprain caused McCluster to miss five games in the middle of the season, and clearly he didn’t have the same quickness and speed after returning for the final five games plus the playoff loss to Baltimore.
“The injury really brought me down,” he said . “But I kept working at it. I’ve been injured before, so I went back out there and I wasn’t timid. I was running and cutting and doing it the same way I’d been doing it. I won’t say I was actually back to what I was but I wasn’t scared to try to play.
“One thing I learned last season: Success does not come overnight. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to grind. You’re going to go through hard times and you’re going to go through high times. So nobody is perfect. I gave it my best, and I’ll continue to give it my best.”
McCluster’s return against the Chargers in the first game of the season was one of the biggest highlights of 2010, but no matter his health I’m not sure that we should expect a whole lot from him in the return game. I kept waiting to see more from McCluster, however the Chiefs kept running out one of the league’s most uninspired return units even after he returned.
My guess is that we will see McCluster focus more on his multiple responsibilities on offense and less on the return game where he if you take away his touchdown he only averaged nine yards per return. Fellow rookie Arenas wasn’t lighting the world on fire on punt returns either (8.3 average) but set records while at Alabama and is much more likely to become a consistent returner for Kansas City.