Before he broke NFL records in the first month of the season, before his professional debut turned him into a nationally trending topic on social media and before he even earned a starting job, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was relegated to a special-teams role in a preseason opener.
Even then, he managed to make standout plays -- scooping up a blocked punt in one sequence and demolishing a punt returner in another. Within weeks, he took over as the No. 1 running back, then scored three times in the regular season opener and six touchdowns in the first three weeks of the year.
But for as unique as his rapid rise to prominence has been, Hunt has recently experienced something much more typical for NFL rookies.
Hunt managed only 83 rushing yards on 31 carries over his past two outings. Is it just a small blip in a rookie of the year candidacy, or have NFL teams adjusted to him and the Chiefs' running game?
"It ain't like there's a magical potion," Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy said on slowing Hunt, later adding, "It's not so much that teams have adjusted to him. This is the NFL.
"I mean, hell, give it up to them. The Dallas Cowboys played pretty good damn defense (Sunday). They did a great of shutting us down. But at the end of the day, it's not about what they do -- it's how will we do a better job of executing our scheme."
The execution is a broad topic that extends well beyond Hunt. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday the offensive line needs to play better, to mimic its early-season cohesion now that it has returned to full health.
But the statistics reside by the man who occupies the top of the running back depth chart. Hunt has gone six straight weeks without a touchdown. His first three games included scores of 50-plus yards.
The plays sending Hunt into the second level of the defense have slowed. As the Chiefs enter their bye week, assistant head coach Brad Childress mentioned that among the most critical topics of conversation.