Akeem Hunt took a call from a friend Sunday night congratulating him on the long touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles that day.
Um, Hunt said. That was Kareem Hunt.
The confusion was a bit more widespread. According to a story in USA Today, many fantasy football owners activated Akeem Hunt when they believed he was Kareem Hunt. Understandable mistake: they share a last name, first names that rhyme, a team and a position.
“Oh, man, I didn’t know that,” Akeem Hunt said. “That’s funny.”
For the record, Kareem Hunt is the rookie running back off to a blazing start with five touchdowns in two games.
Akeem Hunt is a third year pro from Purdue who was waived by the Houston Texans on Sept. 3 and signed to the practice squad by the Chiefs two days later.
The Chiefs liked the latter Hunt enough to part ways with veteran C.J. Spiller, who had an impressive preseason, and Akeem Hunt suited up for his first Chiefs game against the Eagles, seeing the field on 13 special teams plays. One stood out.
He took a fourth quarter kickoff six yards deep in the end zone and returned it 40 yards.
“That felt really good,” said Hunt, who was playing at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time. “The fans got me going. That’s probably the loudest I’ve ever heard a stadium.”
Hunt went undrafted in 2015 after a productive four-year career at Purdue, where he increased his rushing totals every year and led the team in receptions as a senior.
He spent time with the Giants and on the Ravens’ practice squad before signing with the Texans. In 15 games over two seasons, he rushed for 205 yards.
The 5-9, 184-pound Hunt liked his chances of sticking with the Texans but understood when he was released.
“In this business, you know it can happen,” Hunt said. “I went undrafted, so somewhere deep down I knew it was a possibility. It was a bummer, and I say that because I got into the community.”
In a big way. Hunt was in Houston receiving treatment when the Texans visited New Orleans for a preseason game. The team couldn’t return home because of Hurricane Harvey, which caused widespread flooding, but Hunt remained in the city.
Hunt said the damage was limited where he lived, but he was struck by the devastation. He organized a school-supply drive with a group of friends and wound up donating more than 500 book bags of pencils, pens, notebooks, sharpeners, erasers and other supplies to the Houston Independent School District.
“I just spoke up and used my platform as an athlete,” Hunt said. “I was in a position to help, so I did. And a lot of people donated to this. It was a group effort.”
While Hunt continues to learn the offense and work behind Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West at running back, he’ll be used on special teams as the Chiefs take advantage of speed that was once measured at 4.39 in the 40.
“He’s very fast,” Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub said. “He’s strong, he gets the return going north and south. He breaks tackles. He kind of fits our scheme.”
De’Anthony Thomas is the Chiefs’ primary kickoff return man. But Toub as long as Hunt suits up, “he’s a guy we’re going to keep developing.”
Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff
When Aaron Rodgers needed a big play, Geronimo Allison was there for his quarterback.
The second-year pro piled up a career-high 122 yards on six catches, including a 72-yarder that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
With Randall Cobb missing due to injury, Allison took on a larger role, providing Rodgers a complementary target alongside Jordy Nelson. The Packers quarterback was not surprised in the least by the undrafted receiver's performance.
"I've known Geronimo's been a player for a long time," Rodgers said, via the team's official website. "He's a fantastic part of our offense. He's a tough, tough kid. Really tough competitor.
"I remember the first day I watched him at training camp, I said, 'How the hell did this guy not get drafted? This kid's fantastic.' He's got a great attitude. It's good having him back."
Rodgers displayed his trust in Allison, targeting the second-year wideout in several key situations. Of Allison's six receptions, four went for first downs, three of which were on third-and-long. Allison also forced a defensive pass interference on another third down to extend a fourth-quarter drive.
As Sunday's come-from-behind victory displayed once again, the Packers might be banged up, but with Rodgers under center, no deficit is insurmountable. Green Bay will just plug in another unheralded player who will be available when the QB calls his number.
Kirk Cousins and his primary new receiver both flopped during the Washington Redskins' 2017 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField on Sunday. Sadly, the pair had plenty of company during what was a shaky performance from the Burgundy and Gold in losing 30-17 to an NFC East rival.
Cousins and hands-of-stone wideout Terrelle Pryor Sr. weren't helped by an offensive line that was no match for Philadelphia's impressive array of pass-rushers. The continued absence of a running game not sufficiently strengthened this offseason also served to hamstring the Redskins offense.
Based on Week 1, it could be a long year for Washington's offense. It may be longer still for a Redskins defense worked over in the second half by young Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and his receivers.
Incoherent planning from defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, coupled with an inability to finish plays in key moments, wasted some fine individual performances, particularly from newcomers Zach Brown and Terrell McClain.
Read on to find out who are the winners and losers for the Redskins after a disappointing start to the new season.
Winner: Terrell McClain
The Redskins invested heavily in fortifying their defensive line this offseason, so they should be pleased with Terrell McClain's efforts on Sunday.
McClain arrived from the Dallas Cowboys in free agency with a reputation as a disruptive interior D-lineman who is a force against the run. He justified his billing with some solid and perhaps unseen work against the Eagles.
Two plays from the first quarter helped showcase what McClain can bring. The first was a stop for a loss on Wendell Smallwood. McClain made the play thanks to his strength and technique. He began by deftly sliding down the line to take on pulling left tackle Jason Peters.
Staying on the outside of Peters' inside shoulder, McClain was in a great position to shed the block. He did so after slamming into Peters and standing the tackle up, forcing Smallwood to slow down.
McClain then went low to split the gap and knife into the backfield to drop Smallwood for a short loss.
This was a heady play all about recognition and execution. McClain read an outside run and didn't let himself get reach-blocked on the edge. He was too strong for Peters and quick enough to halt Smallwood before he built up speed on the outside.
Later in the quarter, McClain did the unfashionable but essential work to set up a key stop on 3rd-and-short. Zach Brown made the play, taking down LeGarrette Blount to force the Eagles to punt, but the stop owed everything to McClain.
Specifically, the play was created by McClain's ability to hold a double-team. He held up both the tackle and guard to create a clear lane for Brown to exploit and attack downhill.
Linemen controlling multiple blockers so linebackers can make the plays is how the 3-4 is supposed to work.
McClain looked every inch the two-gap monster he's paid to be. His regular-season debut with the Redskins was a far cry from the struggles the 29-year-old experienced during preseason, per Nora Princiotti of the Washington Times.
Instead, this formidable showing only strengthens the belief McClain should replace Ziggy Hood as Washington's starting nose tackle.
SASKATOON — Jenson Stoshak has caught virtually everything thrown his way since joining the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
He did the same thing at Florida Atlantic University — and he has the YouTube video to prove it.
In 2015, Stoshak became an Internet sensation (Click here to watch!) when he caught passes while doing three backflips, one after another. He snared the first pass with his right hand, the second with his left hand (while still holding the first ball in his right hand) and the third with both hands (after tossing away the first two balls).
“That was around the time when everyone was trying to do backflip stuff,” the 23-year-old product of Jacksonville, Fla., said after the Roughriders’ training-camp session Monday at the University of Saskatchewan’s Griffiths Stadium.
“One day after practice at FAU, me and a couple of my buddies were like, ‘Hey, y’all want to try to make (ESPN’s) SportsCenter?’ I was like, ‘Sure, why not?’ So we went to the backup practice facility (and tried).
“(The successful attempt) wasn’t a first-time thing; a lot of people think it was. I did a bunch of them. It was something just to mess around with and it ended up blowing up bigger than I thought it would.”
Stoshak estimated he did “about 20 backflips that day” and was ready to give up before the successful try.
The 6-foot-0, 200-pound receiver doesn’t have a background in gymnastics and admitted he was scared to do backflips before a friend took him to the beach one day to learn. The rest is history.
Stoshak may have landed the backflips, but it’s unlikely the video helped him land a job in pro football.
“I don’t think coaches really care if you can catch a backflip ball or not,” he said with a chuckle. “It was just something fun to do and it ended up getting out bigger than I thought it would.”
Stoshak spent four seasons at Florida Atlantic, recording 131 receptions for 1,881 yards and six touchdowns in 43 games with the Owls. He wasn’t selected in the 2016 NFL draft, but signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers.
His time with the Panthers was brief — he didn’t get further than their rookie camp — so he was without a job until the Roughriders called.
In April, Stoshak went to a play-in day staged by the team for free agents in Vero Beach, Fla. His performance there earned him a contract and an invitation to the Roughriders’ mini-camp that same week. His showing there earned him a spot in Saskatchewan’s training camp.
Roughriders head coach-GM Chris Jones said Stoshak’s route-running stood out on play-in day, as did his hands. Both of those skills have been evident throughout training camp as well.
“He does nothing but win (when going up against defensive backs),” Jones said. “When you look at him, he’s not the prototypical guy that we look for. He got to us simply by playing his way.
“He came to play-in day and everywhere we’ve ever tried him out and put him under the gun, he has performed. We have to take notice of a guy who continually wins against our DBs.”
That’s all Stoshak can ask for.
“It feels good to be recognized for your hard work; anyone would say that,” he said when told of Jones’ comments. “At the end of the day, whatever you put on film is who you are. Hopefully I put together some good stuff for everybody.”
During Florida Atlantic’s pro day, Stoshak ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, pumped out 21 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press and had a 33-inch vertical jump.
At the Roughriders’ mini-camp, he consistently got open against man-to-man defenders and found the holes in zone coverages — and he may have dropped as many as two passes over the three-day event.
Getting into Saskatchewan’s playbook at that camp has helped him during training camp, too. Plays that are being installed in Saskatoon were ones that Stoshak and his fellow mini-campers learned in Florida, so that group is slightly ahead of the game.
Stoshak also appears to have moved ahead of other receivers on the depth chart. He has been practising with the No. 1 offence of late — and he stayed there Monday even though one of last season’s starters, Ricky Collins Jr., returned from injury. Collins was moved to the defensive backfield, in part because of injuries to other DBs.
During Saskatchewan’s mock game Saturday, Stoshak tied for the team lead with four receptions and led the receiving corps with 78 yards and 34 yards after the catch.
And, no, he did not snag any of those passes while doing backflips.
“I’m pleased with what I’ve done,” Stoshak said. “I know I’m a good player. I’m not a very cocky player. I’m just confident in what I do and I just put my nose to the grindstone and keep going.”
Kevin Snead is not a big-time receiver from a college football powerhouse. In fact, he totaled only six receptions in two seasons while playing wide receiver for Carson-Newman, a Division II program in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
This past week, however, Snead found himself on the same practice field as Brandon Marshall, Eli Manning and some of the most pedigreed players in the game as he participated in the Giants’ OTA practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“It’s just an amazing feeling being out there,” said Snead, who was dubbed “The Fastest Man in College Football” by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association last year.
Snead caught the attention of a lot of NFL clubs when he ran a hand-timed 4.22 40-yard dash — which ties the NFL Scouting Combine record set by now-Bengals wideout Jon Ross this year — at Tennessee’s pro day before the draft. Snead also had a vertical jump of 37.5 inches and a broad jump of 10-11 at the pro day. He had been on the team’s radar even before that as longtime Giants scout Jeremiah Davis, who has roots in Tennessee, brought him to their attention.
So a week before OTAs, the Giants decided to squeeze the sprinter on to their 90-man roster. After their first OTA session, it became clear that Snead is a project, albeit an intriguing one.
“He’s fast enough, but he’s got a long way to go,” coach Ben McAdoo said when asked if the track star could make the transition. “When it’s clean and he’s confident, he catches the ball well. When it’s not and he’s learning, it’s hard for him to catch the ball. He’s a project.”
That may be so, but Snead has fought his way through adversity before. He attended junior college in Arizona and spent a year at Eastern Michigan before landing a track scholarship to Carson-Newman. Though he also played football for the school, it was as an All-American sprinter when he really excelled.
“He’s not one of those spindly little track guys. He has some muscle mass,” said Carson-Newman track coach David Needs, who also has served as an assistant on the school’s football team. “There was some talk of him turning professional in track, but to be honest, football is really his first love.”
Snead grew up playing football in Virginia and went to Mesa Community College to play the sport. Needs said his catches at Carson-Newman were limited by the fact that he had some nagging injuries his senior year and wasn’t completely healthy until late in the season.
It’s one thing, however, to play Division II ball and quite another to line up next to some of the best football players in the world, even if you are one of the fastest people on the field.
“It’s definitely a learning curve for me coming from a small school and stepping it up to the NFL,” Snead said. “Right now, I’m just trying to adjust to the speed of things and basically trying to learn a playbook. It’s a big change, and I try to make the most of my opportunities. I love football and I’m thankful just to be here.”