Todd Haley says there are no starting jobs assured on the 2009 Chiefs right now.
That’s OK with Devard Darling. He’s more than willing to keep working for a starting job. He’s just excited that right now, he’s running with the first team offense as the other receiver with Dwayne Bowe.
It was Bowe who got all the attention on Monday as the Chiefs started another week of OTA workouts. Haley talked about Bowe, and then the wide receiver spoke to the media, something he’s done very little of during this off-season.
On the other side of the room was the team’s other starting receiver – at least for now. As always, Darling did not draw a lot of attention. It’s probably one of the biggest surprises of the new season so far that a guy considered an unrestricted free agent bust last year, has pushed himself into the mix in the Chiefs offense. A starting job in June does not mean he goes back to Baltimore in September and takes the field for the first offensive play.
But right now, Darling is getting the chance to build rapport with QB Matt Cassel, thanks to those reps with the first team.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Darling said. “It’s too early to think things are set. There’s a lot of work left to do, then training camp. I’m just going out and working as hard as I can every day that I’m here. That’s what I’ve done through this whole off-season and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
In a Chiefs passing game that has struggled in the last week or so to get things done, Darling has been very consistent and very productive.
“You hear from the coaches all the time that they are evaluating,” said Darling. “So I try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”
People forget that Darling started last year in the Chiefs offense. It was a spot he held for the first five games of the season. He caught just four passes in those games and the only one to remember was the 68-yard play where he split the Patriots defense in the fourth quarter and gave the Chiefs a chance to beat New England. Right after Darling catch and run, Bowe dropped a TD pass in the end zone and the Chiefs racked up the first of their 14 defeats.
That play should have been Darling’s ticket to more action in the Chiefs offense. But something got in his way. First, it was the problems at quarterback and first Brodie Croyle and then Damon Huard were injured. Through the first five weeks, Darling caught just four passes, none longer than 11 yards.
That’s when Darling lost his starting job, as Mark Bradley advanced to the first unit after being signed off the waiver wire. Darling did not start again until Bradley was injured late in the season.
And it was in the last month that Tyler Thigpen found him again, as Darling caught seven passes in the final three games, including a 33-yard TD catch against Miami.
So what happened between the 68-yarder against the Patriots and the 33-yard catch against the Dolphins? Darling would like to know.
“I can’t really tell you what happened,” he said. “Nobody ever said anything to me. I didn’t get a lot of opportunities.”
Darling ended the season with 17 catches for 247 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers were all less than what he’d done in the 2007 season with Baltimore (18 for 326 and 3 TDs.) He did contribute 11 special teams tackles last season, which was second on the team.
“It was a bad year, the worst season I was part of in my career,” Darling said. “It wasn’t just that I didn’t get a chance in the offense. It was the losing. It was just awful.”
Like everyone else that returns from the 2-14 debacle, Darling is looking for an opportunity to wash that sour taste out of his mouth.
“We have a chance to overcome that,” said Darling. “That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get better every day and help this team win some games.”
FROM OUT OF NOWHERE, SPIDERMAN RETURNS
The last time we heard from Andre Rison, he was getting arrested at a hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio for disturbing the peace. But he surfaced over the weekend in Atlanta, where he was working a football camp.
As usual Spiderman had something to say.
“(I’m the) best receiver to ever play the game,” Rison told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I can’t show my highlights because I don’t own NFL Films, but all my coaches in college, in high school, in junior college, they all told me I could be the best. But they must’ve lied because that title was already given to Jerry Rice.
“Just because you have stats doesn’t mean you’re the best. Can’t nobody tell me that Andre Reed isn’t better than Jerry Rice. I’m seeing cornerbacks on the 75th anniversary team that I used to demolish. But I’m coming out with my own hall of fame.”
For the record, Rison finished his 12-year NFL career with 743 catches for 10,205 yards and 84 touchdowns. His best year in his last eight seasons was 1997 with the Chiefs, when he caught 72 passes for 1,092 yards and seven TDs at the age of 30.
And also for the record, Rice played for 20 years, catching 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards and 197 scores. He had a 1,000-yard season when he was 40 years old.
Rison does have some things he can tell young people from his experiences.
“I tell them they can’t make mistakes they can’t come back from because I overcame adversity,” Rison said. “I had some problems I caused, some I didn’t. But I overcame it. I tell them not to even put themselves in bad situations. Don’t be a follower. President Clinton did some things wrong with that whole adultery thing. Martha Stewart did some things wrong. Kobe Bryant did some things wrong. They all made mistakes here and there, and I relate that to them.”
And get this: Rison says he’s written a book. Whether anyone ever sees it, “Wide Open” tells his story.
“It’s a show-and-tell book,” Rison said. “I’m not a snitch, I never was a snitch and I’m never going to be a snitch, but I’m calling aces how they are. It’ll deal with me from when I was a child all the way through my trials and tribulations and then how I ended up on my two feet with a smile on my face.”
TWO PLAYERS AVAILABLE IN JULY SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT
Kentucky DE Jeremy Jarmon (left)and Florida State WR Corey Surrency will enter the NFL’s supplemental draft that is set for July 16th.
Jarmon was considered one of the better returning defensive players in college football for the 2010 season, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible after he tested positive for a banned substance. Jarmon said during a May news conference that he took a dietary supplement not knowing it contained a banned substance. Although he tested negative in a later test, his appeal to the NCAA was denied.
“The NCAA, in my opinion, tries to be as fair as possible when passing down decisions because it rules based on precedent,” said Jarmon, who already has a degree in political science from Kentucky. “So from their standpoint, it’s always a tough decision to overturn a case. If you go back and look at the facts from a lot of other cases, my situation does have variables that were completely different from others. But they don’t want to necessarily look at cases individually. It’s more of a collective thing, and by doing that they feel like they’re protecting everyone’s interests in the fairest way possible.”
Jarmon is 6-3, 278 pounds and started 31 games in three seasons at Kentucky. In the last two years he was twice All-SEC and had 100 tackles and 13.5 sacks.
Surrency is 6-5, 220 pounds, who played one season at Florida State after two seasons of junior college ball. He caught 12 passes for 237 yards and four TDs last year for the Seminoles. The NCAA declared he was out of eligibility.
In the NFL Supplemental Draft, teams bid via e-mail for individual players, submitting a round where they would be willing to select that player. The highest round bid wins and if multiple teams submit for the same player and same round, it would go in the order of last April’s draft. Any pick used in the supplemental draft would come from a team’s 2010 draft class.
Players have until July 6 to submit applications for the supplemental draft, so there could be more than the two players available by the middle of July.
The last time the Chiefs used a choice in the supplemental draft was in 1992, when they selected DE Darren Mickell out of Florida.¬† They gave up a second-round pick in the 1993 Draft.
SIGNINGS & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
RAIDERS – signed QB Charlie Frye (Seahawks).
SAINTS – LB Dan Morgan announced his retirement.
SEAHAWKS — signed seventh-round draft choice S Courtney Greene.
TEXANS — signed sixth-round CB Brice McCain.