After being taken in the fifth round (162nd overall) of the NFL Draft, new Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray had his first experience with an NFL practice session on Friday as the team opened their rookie minicamp.
“It was a lot of fun,” he told reporters during Saturday’s virtual press conference. “It was good to finally put on a practice jersey, put the cleats on and just go out and practice.”
At first, he maintained that Friday’s practice was a lot different than what he was used to — but then responding to a later question, he gave a different take.
“I think it’s just because it’s a rookie minicamp feel,” explained Gray. “So I haven’t really got into a full practice with the older veterans yet. So obviously it’s a lot different. There’s not as many guys out here, so you run things like seven-on-seven and a lot more individual work — and I’m sure that once we get into full practice with the vets that I’ll probably have a better understanding of what the practice is like.”
In fact, said Gray, he has already noticed some similarities between Kansas City’s routines and those of his former coach: longtime Duke head coach David Cutliffe.
“Coach Cut runs a very structured team. I think the Kansas City Chiefs’ — and coach Reid’s — structure is very similar. A lot of things that we do in practice — paying attention, very detail-oriented, there’s a lot of little things that go into the football team — a lot of those things [are in] Duke’s practices and Duke’s philosophy as well as here.”
Of course, one of Gray’s teammates at Duke in 2017 and 2018 was quarterback Daniel Jones, whom the New York Giants selected sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft — and who will face the Gray and the Chiefs on Monday Night Football during Week 8 of the coming season.
“It’s good to have that kind of mentor — to have that kind of friend — to lean on if you have any questions and just kind of be around,” said Gray of his old teammate. “Daniel’s a great guy. So moving forward for that Monday night game, it’ll be a lot of fun to play against my former teammate. I’m just very blessed to be in the situation I am — and I think he’d say the same. Just going to attack it week by week — and when that week comes, it’ll be fun and it’ll be good to see him.”
Ever since the Chiefs selected Gray in the draft, the discussion about him has focused on the variety of ways he was used in Duke’s offense. In Andy Reid’s offense, he could end up playing as a tight end, slot receiver, H-back or fullback — or any combination of those roles. But Gray said he doesn’t yet know what is in store for him.
“I’m not sure what they have planned for me,” he said. “I’m just kind of doing what the coaches tell me to do for right now. So there’s no game plan for that. I’m just out practicing with my teammates — and whatever happens moving forward is up to the coaches.”
But Gray said that whatever it is, it will be OK with him.
“I just want to contribute to the team,” he declared. “Whether it’s [being a] big practice player, [doing] other things — whatever the coaches really ask me to do and whatever my teammates need me to do — I think that’s the contribution that I’m going to be put into. And that I will enjoy doing.”