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Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

K.C.’s Hall shows he’s still threat

October 5, 2006

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— The woman whose nickname is lovingly tattooed onto Dante Hall's left arm had been urging patience.

And like just about everything else "Lady C" ever suggested, it worked.

With a fake left, a feint right and a quick burst up the middle, Kansas City's quicksilver return specialist took a punt back 60 yards for a touchdown against San Francisco last week. It was the 11th scoring return of his career, but his first since 2004, and it broke what had seemed like a long dry spell for the two-time Pro Bowler.

Even though he's only a couple of weeks past his 28th birthday, there were whispers that Hall had lost a step. Some said the waterbug-like elusiveness that made the little Texan the top returner in the NFL from 2002-2004 had ebbed.

But not Lady C. She figured it was simply a matter of his needing to adjust to the adjustments his opponents had made.

"The problem was, I'd been trying to hit a home run every time. I wanted to take back every kick for a touchdown instead of just getting the best field position for the team that I could get," he said.

Defenses had to do something. In his greatest year, 2003, Hall touched the ball 142 times for a team-record 2,446 combined net yards with five touchdowns on returns, receptions and rushes.

In 2004, the 5-8, 180-pounder had 68 kickoff returns for a career-high 1,718 yards, with two touchdowns.

Almost every week, he was leaving coverage teams strewn in his wake. So most of them began fanning out, playing what's known as a "soft coverage."

"They kind of cushion against me instead of just coming down beaming," Hall said. "When they come down beaming, you make one or two guys miss, and that's when you get the home run.

"And that's what I was trying to do against the fanned-out defense instead of taking the 12- or 15-yard gain."

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