KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Back like he never left. Those could be the words used to describe Mecole Hardman’s return to the team on Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver made multiple huge plays in crunch time on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The first was a 50-yard punt return in the middle of the fourth quarter during a one-score game to put the Chiefs at the Chargers 35-yard line. On the ensuing drive, Hardman made a catch on 3rd & 6 to keep the drive alive.
They scored a touchdown a few plays later.
It was a fitting restart for Hardman, having a big punt return on a day that Dante Hall—the best returner in franchise history—was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
The team also is elated to welcome back Hardman and his playmaking ability.
“You can feel the energy from that guy being in the room. I don’t know how he got out of New York, but I’m so glad that he’s with us,” tight end Travis Kelce said. “He came up absolutely huge for us there in the fourth quarter.”
“I’m just proud. I’m happy for the guy that he’s back with us, and I’m glad we got him for the rest of the year. ”
Hardman’s return looks to be a rejuvenation for him as he was immediately thrust into the fold after playing only 28 snaps with the New York Jets.
His workload should only increase with the Chiefs since he’s already familiar with the offense.
“He busted that punt out. That was a huge play, and then he came back and had a big catch. So welcome back, Mecole,” head coach Andy Reid said. “We only got him here on Thursday, so we’ll just keep adding stuff to his menu there.”
“Mecole is real smart. He’s an innately smart kid,” Reid said. “It wasn’t hard for him to jump back in and pick up a few things we had in the game plan and roll with those.”
He also gives the Chiefs two things they needed: Speed and a difference-maker as a punt/kick returner.
Hardman was an All-Pro returner during his rookie season in Kansas City. He should continue to make contributions to a Chiefs offense that is starting to find its rhythm.