Hemingway Works Way Into WR Picture

It would be safe to say that Junior Hemingway has been on the radar screens of Chiefs fans in the last six months about as often as they thought about Ernest Hemingway.

The team’s seventh-round draft choice last season, Hemingway was a none-factor for the Chiefs in 2012. He spent 15 of the season’s 16 games on the practice squad and was activated only for the season finale in Denver. In that game, he got on the field for 20 snaps in the kicking game.

Then, in the door came a new GM, new head coach, new coaching staff and Hemingway didn’t know if that was good for a nice clean start in 2013, or bad because he wasn’t part of any decision made by the new regime.

So Hemingway did the one thing he knew how to do – he went to work. He didn’t worry about the changes. He put last season’s disappointment behind him. He worked to get into the best shape of his life and once he got his hands on the offensive playbook, he’s put in extra time trying to make sure he’s ready for the next step every day in practice.

“Junior has done a good job picking stuff up,” said head coach Andy Reid.

“He’s a young guy that wants to get in there and get play time, so that’s the way he’s handled things. He’s come in very business-like and worked his techniques and the offense and his fundamentals.”

In eight OTA practices over the last three weeks, Hemingway has probably caught significantly more than 20 passes in the Chiefs offense. He’s been popping up everywhere, but especially in Wednesday’s OTA #8 when Dexter McCluster, Donnie Avery and then Dwayne Bowe were not participating because of injuries.

That put Hemingway in the slot at times, and at other times on the outside. Wherever he was, the quarterbacks were finding him on short, intermediate and even longer routes. He did not come down with every throw, but he was as consistent a receiver in these workouts as the Chiefs offense has had on the field.

“I’m here to help this team, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” Hemingway said after an OTA session. “That’s what I tried to do last year and I just wasn’t in a position where they thought I could help the team in the game. So I did what I could during practice.

“That’s then, this is now and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

According to his quarterback, he’s improving with every opportunity he’s gotten.

“I think he’s doing a great job,” said Alex Smith. “He’s had a little window here where he’s getting more opportunities because Dex hasn’t been out there. He’s gotten a lot of work and really making the most of it. He’s a guy we’re really moving around a lot.”

The roster situation at wide receiver remains very murky once past Bowe, McCluster, Baldwin and Avery. That leaves one, two and at the outside chance maybe three spots on the roster for other receivers, depending on contributions in the kicking game.

That’s where Hemingway has an edge; working special teams was something he did at the University of Michigan. He also worked in the kicking game every week as part of the practice squad last year. It’s where he got those 20 plays in his first NFL season and he’s quite conscious of the factor it will play in his Chiefs future.

New special teams coach Dave Toub has him on the first-team kick and punt return units and the second-team punt and kick coverage teams.

If he’s going to fight his way into one of those remaining spots at wide receiver, he’s going to have to tackle, block and catch and not necessarily always in that order. And, he’s going to have to do it better than a half-dozen other receivers that are all candidates for the wide receiver depth chart.

“There’s a lot of improvement that we have to make as an offense and I have to make in the practices and then training camp,” Hemingway said. “I’m just going to do what I have been doing and that’s keep my head down and work.”

2 Responses to “Hemingway Works Way Into WR Picture”

  • May 30, 2013  - jimmydee says:

    Gotta love the attitude. Some players ‘say’ the right things, but it sounds like Jr. is ‘doing’ the right things. “Have a good camp son and go get your self a job as a KC Chief.” Good luck!

  • May 30, 2013  - ChiefsZed says:

    Thanks, Bob, for the profile on Junior. I’m glad he’s going to get a real shot at contributing. This also speaks well of the new coaching staff — Reid and Co. really intend to play the best players, no matter who drafted them.

    Go Junior!

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