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For three of their players, it’s a dream come true to play for the Chiefs

On Wednesday, three players spoke of their time with the Chiefs in the same way — but for different reasons

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After the Kansas City Chiefs finished their minicamp practice on Wednesday, the media questioned several Chiefs players. A common theme emerged: it’s a dream come true to play for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.

For cornerback Charvarius Ward, it’s easy to see why. Signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State after the 2018 NFL Draft, he was seen as expendable at the conclusion of training camp. The Cowboys — shorthanded on the offensive line — were happy to trade Ward to the cornerback-needy Chiefs in exchange for guard Parker Ehinger.

But that’s not how Ward sees it.

”It’s a dream come true,” he told the press on Wednesday. “The Chiefs gave me opportunity. The Cowboys also gave me opportunity, but the Chiefs believed in me more. They traded for me, so coach Reid and Brett Veach [saw] a lot in me. They gave me opportunity. I respect them for that. I thank them for that. And I’m going to prove them right.”

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Carlos Hyde said the same thing — but for a somewhat different reason.

Hyde is now on his third team in two seasons. After spending four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers — where he was a fairly productive player as both a rusher and receiver — Hyde was allowed to walk after 2017. He signed a three-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, but was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round draft pick midway through the 2018 season. The Jaguars released Hyde in early March.

Neither the Browns or the Jaguars were particularly interested in using Hyde as anything but a rusher. But the Chiefs have a different idea about how running backs should be used, and Hyde said it would be the answer to his dream to make the team.

”For a running back like me who likes to catch the ball — I mean, I pretty much like to do it all — it’d be like a dream come true,” he said. “It’s not just a one-dimensional running back here. You do it all. You’re running as a receiver. You’re actually running real routes — not just as a decoy. Go back in the backfield, run the ball, block — you do it all. So you get to really showcase your ability.

”I had a little success catching the ball with Shanahan,” he said of his time with the 49ers. “That was the first real time I got to show my hands a little. But ever since then, I’ve been focused on catching the ball more. Coming to [the Chiefs], I didn’t know that they used the running back so much in the passing game until I got here. But it put a smile on my face. Now I’m in another offense where I can really showcase my hands — really take ownership on that issue.”

Whether or not Hyde will make the final roster remains to be seen. But he has confidence he can do it.

”I’ve played in seven different offenses,” he said. “I figured a way to make it work. So I think I can do the same thing here: figure a way to make things work for me.”

Even though he didn’t realize that the Chiefs would want to make use of all of his skills, Hyde said that he was all-in on coming to Kansas City.

“It was kind of my decision,” he said. “I had other teams that I could have looked into, but I saw that previous running backs had success in Kansas City with Coach Reid, so I felt like this was a good place for a running back to get on the right track. Working with [offensive coordinator] Eric Bieniemy, [running backs coach] Deland McCullough — those guys are definitely going to help me get on the right track.”

NFL: AFC Championship Game-New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Center Austin Reiter was asked if he is cherishing his time in Kansas City.

”I think that sometimes I have to sit back and realize that,” he replied. “Day to day, I’m just here. I put my head down. I work. I grind. That’s really the best thing you can do — at least in my situation. For me personally, that’s how I’ve always been — and things have ended up working out pretty well for me. Sometimes I’ve got to pick my head up out of the water and be like, ‘I really am with these guys.’”

Reiter has plenty of reason to revel in those moments.

Drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, Reiter spent his first NFL season on the practice squad of the Washington Redskins. Going in to the 2016 season, the Redskins tried to stash him there again, but the Browns swooped in to grab him. After two seasons in Cleveland where he started just a single game, Reiter was waived as the 2018 season began. This time, the Chiefs were there to pick him up.

Coming into 2018 as the presumptive starting center after he performed admirably stepping in for Mitch Morse — who has since left in free agency — Reiter says that the appreciates his teammates on the offensive line.

”I think we all want to have fun, but I think the best part of our room is that everybody really wants to work hard,” he said. “We go out there — and I know Coach Heck does a tremendous job with us — but he never faults us on our effort. We always have things to work on, but I think the greatest attribute in our room is the effort all around. Everybody wants to get better. Everybody wants to be the best.”

But Reiter said that Mitchell Schwartz is already the best.

”He’s kind of like another quarterback out there, to be honest,” he said of Schwartz. “When we do blitz drills or we get certain looks on defense — our defense right now is flying around, hiding coverages — to have a guy that’s played over 100 games and is that smart with what he can see is almost like having another quarterback.”

Reiter said that he agrees with those who consider Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to be a generational player. But Reiter sees Schwartz as a generational player, too — and also said he’s glad to finally be working alongside right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

”It’s great. It’s good to get reps with Larry now,” Reiter said. “He’s a physical player — great strong hands. He gets his hands on guys, which is awesome in pass protection and helps me out. I saw his comments yesterday [about] learning to keep our feet out of each [other’s way]. It’s kind of a battle there when you start playing with new guards and centers. But I’m extremely satisfied with what we’ve done in these last seven or eight weeks.”

From the outside, it might appear that the Chiefs’ success in 2018 was all about Patrick Mahomes. That’s the narrative we’re hearing from national voices — and no one could reasonably dispute that Mahomes’ contributions played a huge role in what the Chiefs accomplished last season.

But after listening to these players speak on Wednesday, it might be time to think the reasons for the team’s success might go deeper than that.

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