What We Saw In This Week’s Chiefs OTAs

From the Truman Sports Complex

A year ago, the Chiefs offense was learning how to walk in Andy Reid’s offense.

This week as the OTA practices started for the 2014 off-season, the offense was light years ahead of where it was a dozen months ago. They aren’t walking now, they are up and running and it showed as quarterback Alex Smith directed the offense in three practices.

“It’s tough to even compare and put into words; you’re learning to crawl last year at this time and for the guys that are back and here, obviously it’s a night and day difference,” Smith said. “The unique thing is that there are new faces and you have to get them caught up and get them in the mix. That’s everybody in the NFL; that’s the name of the game. There is turnover from year-to-year and getting everybody caught up because it takes 11 guys to execute.”

In the 7-on-7 passing drill in Thursday’s practice, Smith had running back Jamaal Charles running down the left side of the field, with a defensive back trailing him. The quarterback saw the opening and threw the ball, although he put too much mustard on the throw and it was high and sailed well out of Charles’ reach.

Smith reacted like it was November and he just missed a potential touchdown play in the fourth quarter, stomping his foot and grabbing his helmet in both hands. A year ago, that type of play never had a chance of happening. But this week, Reid turned up the momentum on the offense with a little no-huddle action, and Smith was constantly completing throws to Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

“It’s something we’ve had in the package for a long time,” Smith said. “I don’t know if he was doing it from an execution or conditioning aspect, but it’s good work for us out here in the heat. I think conditions like this are awesome to practice in.”

Bowe has caught everything thrown in his direction, whether short, long, intermediate, no matter the routes he has stuck out his hands and the ball has stuck. Plus, he’s shown his off-season conditioning work has been frequent and intense, as he’s run around in the heat without problem. It’s a good start for Bowe who needs a productive season if the Chiefs offense is going to do its part during the 2014 season.

It’s tough to evaluate the offensive or defensive linemen in these practices since there is little or no contact. The quarterbacks, receivers and players in coverage stand out. Along with Bowe, receivers that got open, ran good routes and caught the ball were Canadian Football League signee Weston Dressler, former college basketball player tight end Demetrius Harris and Junior Hemingway.

Watching Dressler in the passing game and it’s easy to see he’s played on the professional level. He does a great job of shielding defensive players away from the ball as it arrives for him to catch.

“I like his quickness and I like him in the slot,” Reid said. “He’s got great quickness there. That’s what he played in Canada. You can see he’s got a real feel in there and good quickness that goes with it.”

Harris was an oddity last year, signing as an undrafted college free agent after his basketball career ended at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Much like the offense, Harris has taken giant strides and showed that in his ability to catch just about every ball that was thrown to him, some with difficult grabs because of coverage. With last year’s third-round draft choice Travis Kelce still on the sidelines as he recovers from micro-fracture surgery on his knee, if Harris can continue to produce and improve, Kelce’s presence in the offense will not be as important.

On defense, first-round draft choice Dee Ford impressed everyone with his explosive potential as a pass rusher. Various offensive tackles tried to slow him down, with marginal success. Nose tackle Dontari Poe continues to be hard for blockers to handle, even in the slower pace of the OTAs. In the secondary, third-round draft choice Phillip Gaines has shown his athletic skills and has handled his role on the No. 2 defense with very few kinks.

Nothing that happens at the end of May is set in stone for a football team in September, but it’s always fun to speculate, so here is how some of the offensive personnel were used in three practices:

Offensive line: with Eric Fisher recovering from shoulder surgery, he does not have complete clearance to practice. That and the nature of the OTAs create a lot of mixing and matching, especially along the offensive line. Here’s where they lined up in the three practices:

  • Left tackle – Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson, Colin Kelly, J’Marcus Webb.
  • Left guard – Jeff Allen, Rokevious Watkins, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Jeff Linkenbach.
  • Center – Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush, Ben Gottschalk
  • Right guard – Rishaw Johnson, Jeff Linkenbach, Zach Fulton, Ricky Henry.
  • Right tackle – Donald Stephenson, J’Marcus Webb, Rokevious Watkins, Jeff Linkenbach, Ryan McKee, Otis Hudson.

Wide receiver: they lined up this way during the week:

  • Z – Dwayne Bowe, Junior Hemingway, Weston Dressler, Fred Williams, Albert Wilson.
  • X – Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Frankie Hammond, Jerrell Jackson, Darryl Surgent.

Tight ends: among the four practicing, starter Anthony Fasano had slightly more snaps than Sean McGrath or Demetrius Harris.

Running back: In the backfield, Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis got about 75 percent of the snaps. Among new faces, veteran Joe McKnight and rookie Charcandrick West had a lot of opportunities.

7 Responses to “What We Saw In This Week’s Chiefs OTAs”

  • May 30, 2014  - Tenand6 says:

    I’d like to see J. Charles and K. Davis on the field together. Add Thomas and there’s some serious match up/decoy issues.

    I’m always surprised on a goal line situation when J. Charles is on the sideline. Isn’t his value as a decoy huge?

    Is Anthony Sherman involved in the offense?

    What a shame if Kelce can’t get on the field. He has so much potential.

  • May 30, 2014  - jimbo says:

    Hey Bob. I look forward to your observation postings. Always concise and fascinating without the added sugar.

    Relieved to know your trained eye noticing how far ahead the offense & defense are from this time last year.
    Go Chiefs.

  • May 30, 2014  - Ernie Barney says:

    D Bowe catching everything. Need to see that continue into the regular season. I fully realize that receivers can’t catch every ball but D Bowe can make the circus catch and then drop a costly, routine ball. (don’t get me started about Avery). I like D Bowe but want to see a little more consistency.

  • May 30, 2014  - R W says:

    I’m encouraged by the early returns on effort and performance from select players and miffed at the ones who can’t get on the field due to PUP issues. A couple of bright spots have to include the coming emergence of Demetrius Harris at TE and, of course, Dee Ford lighting up the clipboards with his efforts to date.

  • May 31, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    Thanks for the update Bob!
    I’ll be disappointed if Alex doesn’t sign a reasonable contract that allows the team to add enough quality to give him a chance at a ring.

  • June 1, 2014  - el cid says:

    cy, in this day of the modern athlete, the time of “reasonable” is probably gone. It is get all the dollars you can because 1. short career and what are you supposed to go to claycomo for your next check. 2. may not get full paycheck anyway. 3. owners are bad guys anyway, got to get mine.

    We, fans, suffer from a love of the sport/team that does not really affect players.

  • June 5, 2014  - Russell says:

    Kap’s deal in SF will help AS. Even if nothing is finalized, Smith can be more than compensated by a tag. Not the neat, certain extended deal but I am sure Smith’s class as a professional will smooth all ripples.

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