Pacheco has his sights on another strong season after an impressive rookie campaign
By Alyssa Merritt, Chiefs.com Contributor
As training camp continues, one player, in particular, stands out not just for his yellow non-contact jersey, but also for his undying spirit and relentless dedication. That player is running back Isiah Pacheco.
Despite missing much of the offseason training program due to hand and shoulder injuries, Pacheco, who is entering his second year with the Chiefs, remains optimistic. He wears his yellow jersey with pride, participates in limited practices, and meticulously makes mental notes. Pacheco’s resilience was previously on display when, despite sustaining injuries in the AFC Championship Game, he managed to lead the Chiefs in rushing during their Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Having led the Chiefs with 830 rushing yards in the regular season and an additional 197 yards in the postseason during his rookie campaign, expectations are high for this young running back. But setbacks such as injuries can take a toll. So, how has he coped?
“It’s very frustrating,” Pacheco shared during Monday’s press conference, addressing his limited involvement in training camp. “But when you’re on the side and you’re getting those mental reps, [and] you’re just detailing…it allows me to stay on top of my task.”
When quizzed about his aspirations for the upcoming season, Pacheco detailed his goals.
“Just finding the little things and pinpointing those to get better at,” Pacheco said. “And as far as understanding the blocking schemes a lot better than last year, just running, being myself…understanding the scheme, slowing down the tempo, [and] allowing myself to see the hole.”
And while he’s still young in his NFL career, Pacheco is already being sought out for advice by newer teammates.
“We’ve got some of those younger guys asking me how was this? How was that? Where do I take care of my body? You know, just asking questions,” Pacheco said. “And for me, I was doing the same as well. So, I don’t have a problem with sharing that information with that younger player to allow them to be the best they can be.”
Pacheco’s approach to the mental side of the game is rigorous. He emphasized understanding the blocking scheme in detail, noting the following.
“For me, it’s just writing notes in the classroom of how the blocking scheme is going to get blocked up,” Pacheco said. “We need all 11 guys to make the play. So, for me, understanding the scheme to the pinpoint will allow me to find a way to get positive yards.”
The game has “slowed down a lot” for him, he mentioned, signaling a greater comprehension and feel for the pace of NFL action. Pacheco added, “I trust myself, and I trust the scheme, the quarterback, and our coaches.”
As for when he’ll return to full football activities, Pacheco – who has shown signs of improvement – isn’t circling any dates on his calendar.
“No certain day. I’m just waiting for that game day,” Pacheco said. “Whenever coach allows me to strap it up. I’m already strapped up right now. I’m ready to go.”
For Chiefs fans, the return of their standout running back is eagerly anticipated. The young powerhouse that took the league by storm last year is ready to do it all over again, and with the mindset and determination he’s shown, who would bet against him?