No one player on the 2015 Chiefs’ roster could have been expected to replace veteran Jamaal Charles when he went down in the fifth game with the second torn ACL of his star-studded career. So the Chiefs turned to two – West and Spencer Ware – and the pair became a thunder-and-lightning combination sparking one of the most remarkable comebacks of any team in NFL history. Only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals had started the season 1-5 and then made the playoffs until Kansas City did it last year, with the Chiefs rattling off 10 straight wins to end the regular season with an 11-5 record. They shocked the Houston Texans 30-0 in the wildcard game before falling to New England, 27-20 in the divisional round.
West ran for 634 yards and four TDs, teaming with Ware to total more than 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. West’s elusive, tackle-breaking, pinball style was the perfect contrast to Ware’s bull-rush approach to running.
Charles’ recovery from surgery has fallen behind schedule in 2016, which means the Chiefs are once again looking to West-Ware and Knile Davis to pick up the slack this Sunday in their opening battle with San Diego. West missed the last two preseason games with a mild elbow sprain but is expected to be ready for the Chargers.
Running back Daryl Richardson (’14) is No. 3 on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart – behind starter DeAngelo Williams and Fitzgerald Toussaint – as the team readies for its Sept. 12 opener with the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. Richardson played regularly for the St. Louis Rams in 2012 and 2013 before signing with but not seeing action with the New York Jets, Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns last season.
The Atlanta Falcons were more than happy to see wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (’14) waived by the Cleveland Browns in early September, signing the diminutive player and envisioning ample opportunities for him to inject speed into its offense and return game. Gabriel had a breakout season as a rookie in 2014 (36 catches for 621 yards and a touchdown) but slowed to 28 catches for 241 yards in 2015 as the Browns struggled offensively en route to a miserable, drama-infused 3-13 season. Gabriel may see action in the Falcons’ opener Sunday against Tampa Bay if he learns the offense quickly enough to contribute.
In the Canadian Football League, quarterback Mitchell Gale (’12) is now a Saskatchewan Roughrider after three seasons with the Toronto Argonauts and one with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Acquired in a trade to help back up star quarterback Darian Durant, Gale went 1-2 in a three-game stretch in July as the starter. The bright spot was a win July 16 over the Ottawa Redblacks in which he completed 21 of 36 passes for 354 yards and one TD. Gale has played sparingly since Durant returned in early August. The Roughriders are struggling in last place in the CFL West Division with a 1-9 record.
Former ACU All-America defensive end Aston Whiteside (’12) has seen his last two seasons for the Redblacks end early with knee surgery. In 2015, he was the best pass rusher on a team leading the CFL in sacks when he was lost to injury. Whiteside had to watch from afar as Ottawa made it to the CFL’s 103rd Grey Cup, where it lost the championship game 26-20 to the Edmonton Eskimos. This fall his season ended Aug. 30 with another knee injury. The Redblacks lead the league’s East Division through 11 games.
Tony Washington (’10) is in his third year as a mainstay on the offensive line for the Eskimos. A tackle, he started all 17 games last season when Edmonton won the league’s Grey Cup championship. He’s a six-year veteran of the CFL.
Emmy Award-winning CBS Sports coordinating producer Lance Barrow (’77), an ACU trustee, will once again be leading his network’s coverage of the NFL.
Wilbert Montgomery (’77) has retired after a 29-year NFL career as an All-Pro player and two-time Super Bowl-winning assistant coach. He remains ACU’s only inductee to the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame.