OTA #1 Report – Work Begins On Offensive Line

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid kicked off his third season of OTAs with the Chiefs on Tuesday and 79 of the 90 players currently on the roster took part in the 90-minute outdoor workout at the team’s facility.

“I thought the guys got to work at a little better speed and that’s always helpful,” said Reid, conversing with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (left.)

A few injuries including one surgery, NFL rules, the arrival of a baby and poor weather in the Southeast kept the turnout down compared to the previous two seasons when 84 players showed up for both opening practices in 2013-14.

KC Chiefs photo

“I thought it was really good work, a clean practice,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “You don’t have pads on, but you want to get the most out of it. Guys worked at good speed.”

There was a lot of attention on the Chiefs offensive line, the position group that needs to show the most improvement over last season’s performance. There could be four new starters compared to last season, including new additions in guard Ben Grubbs and second-round draft choice Mitch Morse.

“We are going to find the five best guys; that’s what we are trying to get to,” Reid said. “I really don’t care where they play. I just want the five best. Then, we line up and play.”

Two of the five “best guys” will be Grubbs at left guard and third-year left tackle Eric Fisher. In the mix for the other three spots are Morse (C-G), Zach Fulton (C-G), Jeff Allen (G-T), Donald Stephenson (G-T), Paul Fanaika (G), Derek Sherrod (T) and Eric Kush (C). Fulton worked at center with the second unit; he started all 16 games at right guard last season. Bouncing back from his ruptured biceps muscle suffered last year, Allen opened at right guard and also took snaps at right tackle.

Right now as May bleeds into June, where the blockers play is less important to Reid and his offensive staff than getting all of them enough practice snaps to determine those five best guys.

“I don’t really care,” Reid said. “Find the best guys and go with it.”

The biggest name among the 11 players that were not working on Monday was outside linebacker Justin Houston. Last year’s NFL leader in sacks (22) has been absent throughout the off-season program, spending his time working out and preparing at home in Georgia. He was designated the club’s franchise player back in March and the team and Houston’s agent continue to talk about a long-term contract. They began those conversations more than 18 months ago.

Also missing the first OTA was safety Eric Berry; his 2014 season was cut short when he was diagnosed in November with Hodgkin lymphoma with a tumor in his chest. Berry began treatments in Atlanta in December and those continued through early May. The Chiefs have not publicly put a timetable on his return.

“Eric is doing well,” said Reid. “He’s been through all the treatments and now the doctor is going to sit down and go over exactly what the results of all that. Everything up to this point has been very positive from the doctor and from Eric. I think we are headed in the right direction.”

There was one new name on the injury report, as tight end Demetrius Harris was off the field after undergoing his second foot surgery in the last six months. The injury knocked him out of the 2014 season and last week team doctors decided the earlier procedure did not provide the healing and stability for the former college basketball player.

“The doctors feel pretty confident about this one,” Reid said. “We knew there was a possibility of this happening (a second surgery.) We feel pretty good he’s going to be OK.”

Safety Husain Abdullah and defensive end Allen Bailey were both absent due to travel plans being disrupted by bad weather in Texas, Georgia and throughout the Southeast. Second-year safety Daniel Sorensen was a no show as his wife was in labor.

Also missing due to NFL rules about underclassmen participation were first-round draft choice cornerback Marcus Peters and third-round cornerback Steven Nelson. Their schools (Washington and Oregon State) are on the quarter system and they will not be back to work on the field until the team’s minicamp in the middle of June.

Not participating because of injury and/or rehab were quarterback Tyler Bray (knee), running back Cyrus Gray (knee) and guard Jarrod Pughsley (hamstring.)

Full participants in the work were inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, defensive end Mike DeVito and safety Tyvon Branch. All three missed nearly all of the 2014 season due to injuries. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali had an off-season arthroscopic surgery on his knee and was a full participant, showing no ill effects from the procedure.

The team’s second OTA will go down on Wednesday.

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