A year ago, the story was much the same: we were sure that Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman would be the top four receivers when the Kansas City Chiefs began their season. But after those four, the roster picture was less clear.
When he spoke to reporters on Thursday, Chiefs wide receivers coach Greg Lewis not provide a lot of clarity.
“It’s a juggling act with all the receivers that are involved here” he said. “My big thing — and what coach (Andy) Reid preaches to me — is to make sure everybody knows every position, because in a game situation, you never know who could go down.”
This wasn’t a big surprise. Earlier this week, second-year wide receiver Jody Fortson said that had been one of his big offseason priorities: to know every wide receiver position.
And Lewis said that Fortson has been getting that done.
“Jody came in as a tryout guy; we released him and he came back. He was playing tight end and then he moved to receiver. So really being able to focus on one position — and understanding what’s going on with the offense at the receiver position — [has] allowed him to play faster and play more physical, [to] let his natural talents show.
“I think he’s done a tremendous job of that throughout this offseason and through training camp thus far. He’s a guy that’s a workaholic — he wants to be great — [so] he’s going to do everything possible to give himself the opportunity to be a part of what we’re doing.”
Lewis said it was much the same with Hardman, who is also entering his second year.
“I want him to work on just becoming bigger, more explosive — obviously he was explosive last year, but he has more in him — and just understanding all facets of the offense. I think he did a wonderful job this offseason of doing those things — and coming back prepared and ready to get to work. I’m excited where he is right now — and what’s to come with him.”
And then there’s Marcus Kemp, who seemed to be on the verge of transitioning from special-teams ace to wide receiver during training camp a year ago — until he suffered a season-ending injury.
“I was devastated when Kemp was hurt last year,” recalled Lewis, “because he’s a guy that’s worked consistently every day since he’s been here — and he was having a tremendous camp last year. I believe he was on the way to making the team.
“Getting him back has been awesome. He knows everything. He’s a guy that works — and there’s not any questions about anything. He’s going to be diligent with everything he has to do — and he brings special-teams value unlike any other. So it’s exciting to have him be a part of the room again. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
Wide receiver Byron Pringle — whom special-teams coordinator Dave Toub named as one of his top “gunners” for punt coverage and has also worked as a returner — would seem to have an inside track to take the fifth spot behind Hardman, presumably leaving the battle to become the sixth wide receiver between Fortson and Kemp. Would Kemp’s special-teams experience give him the edge? Or would the Chiefs believe that Fortson could have more upside as a wideout? Lewis isn’t saying — but he sure seems to think the Chiefs have enough talent available.
“We need to continue to put guys in a position to be successful,” he said. “Understanding everything is big — and then, technique-wise, making sure everyone is on the same page and able to do the same things. Some may be better than others, but we’re able to get the job done with whomever is out there.”
Which player will become the Chiefs’ sixth wide receiver?
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