Michael Dwyer/AP

Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt finished Week 1 with 18 more fantasy points than any other runner, and Kansas City vaulted to second in The MMQB’s power rankings. But after his stellar debut, his first words to his mother were about his only mistake of the night

By Jacob Feldman
September 13, 2017

Ray Wank has moved three times in the past 15 years, and each time, he’s taken the shoes with him. "My most guarded possession,” the youth football coach from Mentor, Ohio, says. “People always laughed at me, making fun of me, but I told them, ‘I know what’s coming.’ ”

The shoes aren’t even gridiron cleats, they’re baseball spikes that were spray-painted red to match Kareem Hunt’s peewee jersey. And on one afternoon, a 10-year-old Hunt ran for 700 yards in those suckers, scoring 10 touchdowns in a 63-59 win over Mitch Trubisky’s Falcons (yes, that Mitchell Trubisky). “A lot of missed extra points,” Wank said of that game. That’s when he realized that he was watching someone special. And yet, that wasn’t Hunt’s most impressive youth league performance.

Ray Wank held on to Kareem Hunt's youth football shoes because he knew the running back was destined for greatness.
Courtesy Ray Wank

Another time, as his team was gunning for an undefeated season, it gave up a Hail Mary score with two seconds to go. Wank’s offensive coordinator turned and said, “They left too much time on the clock.” Sure enough, Hunt took a pitch right on the next carry 75 yards to the house, untouched. He was 8. “That’s when I knew,” says Clarence Riggins, Kareem’s older brother.

In the NFL season opener, Hunt introduced himself to the world, setting the league record for all-purpose yards in a debut (246) and stunning the Patriots in their building. He finished the weekend with 18 more fantasy points than any other runner, while the Chiefs vaulted to second in The MMQB’s power rankings poll (and Hunt landed on the cover of SI as the emerging face of a running back resurgence). But after the game, his first words to his mother were about the first carry of his career, and his only mistake of the night: “I can’t believe I fumbled." Everything else that had happened in the game made sense, at least for those who had seen Hunt run.

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HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Robert Klemko shows how Trevor Siemian learned from Peyton Manning ... The staff puts a new team at No. 1 in our power rankings ... Peter King breaks down the Giants’ offensive line play ... and more in our archive.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer updates us on next year’s QB draft class in his college column ... Tim Rohan provides a special report from Buffalo ... Andy Benoit studies Dak Prescott ... and more. Stay tuned.

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PRESS COVERAGE

Deshaun Watson will likely get his first start for the Houston Texans Thursday in Cincinnati.
Paul Jasienski/AP

1. It seems that Texans coach Bill O’Brien will wait to announce his starting quarterback until just before Thursday’s game at Cincinnati, but his pick will likely be Deshaun Watson. That’s what Bengals coach Marvin Lewis expects. And that’s what NFL.com is reporting. Meanwhile, the Colts are “considering starting Jacoby Brissett” at home against Arizona. Given how Scott Tolzien looked in Week 1, I’m honestly not sure what there is to consider. In happier QB news, Sam Bradford looks like a franchise QB.

2. Some updates that may or may not affect your fantasy team:

—With David Johnson out two to three months, the Cardinals have re-signed Chris Johnson.

Danny Woodhead will miss at least a month with a hamstring injury.

—The Packers cut veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois as wideout Geronimo Allison returns from a one-game suspension.

NFL
David Johnson’s Injury Forcing Cardinals into Survival Mode

3. Two Week 1 wrap-ups as we transition into Week 2, from NFL.com and ESPN.

4. Jaylon Smith played more than the Cowboys planned on Sunday night because of how good he looked. And odds are, he’s only going to get better.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, led by their defense, earned Week 1's biggest upset.
Eric Christian Smith/AP

5. Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz goes deep on how exactly the Jaguars pulled off Week 1’s biggest upset. We’ll have a better sense how for-real Jacksonville’s defense is when a motivated Titans squad shows up on Sunday.

6. That game will be played at EverBank Field, as originally scheduled, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced yesterday. The Buccaneers will also be able to host their game on Sunday. Greg Auman figures out how Hurricane Irma alters their opener against the Bears. Let’s hope nothing else comes along this fall that is disruptive enough to mess with schedules and host sites.

NFL
How the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Jaguars Are Dealing with the Aftereffects of Irma

7. Kevin Clark tells the story of “How a cycling team turned the Falcons into NFC Champions.”

8. After a story last week suggested that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz might be “angling” for head coach Doug Pederson’s job, Schwartz said Tuesday, “I am very comfortable with my relationship with Doug Pederson. I know he's comfortable in his relationship with me. What I do here is, I work extremely hard to execute the defense the way that he has outlined it for me.”

9. Let’s talk sports media (just for a second):

Bleacher Report is airing a 10-episode reality series with Marshawn Lynch this fall on Facebook.

—After becoming “The Internet’s New Favorite Reporter” during Monday Night Football, Sergio Dipp told his own story on Tuesday morning.

—Former NFL VP for officiating Dean Blandino speaks with Deadspin.

10. The editors of the medical journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research have published an editorial questioning whether practitioners should support the sport of football by serving on the sideline. “Our first responsibility is the health and safety of our patients,” the authors write. “Is it right for us to support a game—through our presence on the sidelines or in the form of marketing and advertising dollars that splash orthopaedic logos on practice jerseys and football stadiums—that causes grave harm to at least 9% of those who play it professionally?”

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.

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THE KICKER

Robert Griffin III clearly thinks he can still play . . . basketball.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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