Chiefs Newcomers of Note
After the first week of preseason, two newcomers have caught my attention with the Kansas City Chiefs.
DeAnthony Thomas returned a punt for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball against Cincinnati. Thomas withstood a hit right after the catch… regained his bearings and went the distance. At Oregon, Thomas showed that he can set up blockers and use them to his advantage. As I watched the Saturday morning practice in St. Joseph, I also noticed that Thomas changes direction at full speed like few others. Former Chief Dante Hall comes to mind. The difference is that Thomas has a step or maybe two on Hall in the open field.
Thomas is also likely to figure in the passing game. I suspect the Chiefs will find ways to use him from scrimmage too.
A lasting image from Saturday's visit to Chiefs Camp was Thomas running an agility and change of direction drill and seeing how fast and how sharply he changes direction and resumes full speed. He stood out among guys who are on the Chiefs payroll because they are fast and agile. He's going to be fun to watch for Chiefs fans.
Travis Kelse missed 2013 with a knee injury. I'm counting him as a newcomer because he couldn't be a factor last year. Kelse came from the University of Cincinnati with a reputation as a decent blocker who stepped up as a receiving threat as a senior. The nfl.com scouting report noted similarities to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Watching Kelse run away from NFL defensive backs on the 69 yard catch and run Thursday made me take notice. That play reminded me of Jackie Smith with the Big Red in the 60’s and 70’s and Kellen Winslow with the Chargers in the early 1980’s.
Yes, that was one play in one game. Kelse has a lot of work to do and he readily admitted that to the media Saturday in St. Joseph. “I’ve got to work on all phases of my game… blocking being one of them.” Kelse was also asked about the big play against Cincinnati. “It’s the NFL. I picture the NFL, All DB’s run 4.3’s so I thought I was going to get caught”
Kelse expresses confidence in his knee after last year’s injury kept him on the sidelines for his first year. In the meantime, he's getting a lot of hard work in along with everyone else in camp at St. Joe.