Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marcus Kemp spoke to reporters after Friday night’s 28-25 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings — a good indicator that he will make the team’s initial 53-man roster next week.
Kemp finished the game with three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown — a week after making a 36-yard catch against the Arizona Cardinals. Kemp attributed his breakthrough on offense this preseason to the environment this team has.
“As far as the receiver development,” the fifth-year player out of Hawaii said, “when you’re around guys like Tyreek (Hill), Travis (Kelce), D-Rob (Demarcus Robinson), all the pass-catchers, you kind of have no choice but to get better.”
The receiver also noted that having the best quarterback in football can aid in improvement.
“Obviously, with Patrick (Mahomes) throwing you the ball, you kind of find ways to succeed.”
Although his expanded role on offense has been noted — both in team practices and in three preseason games — Kemp knows that special teams has kept him in the league to this point.
“So when I first entered the league, I knew that was probably my best chance at staying on a team — being an undrafted rookie,” Kemp replied when asked about how playing special teams had kept him on the team long enough to develop. “So I kind of took that mindset every year. This is my fifth year now — but I still come in like I’m an undrafted rookie where that’s my best chance to make the team, that’s how I’m going to help.”
Entering his fifth season, Kemp also appreciates the opportunity he has with the Chiefs — after being cut during the 2020 season and signing with the Miami Dolphins.
“I had moved on, where I thought I had a new team, and I was prepared to be there or somewhere else — wherever I ended up. So when I got a call to come back, I was very excited for what seemed to be a new opportunity to come back and prove myself again.”
Kemp, with a listed height of 6’4, addressed the role of being a possession receiver when asked about making his catches through contact.
“With a body like mine, that’s kind of the role that gets pushed upon you,” he acknowledged. “That’s not the only thing I can do. That’s not what I’m coming in as. I’m just trying to be the best receiver I can be, but if that’s the role I have on the team — if that’s what they need me to do — that’s what I need to do. Whatever I can do to help the team is what I’m trying to be the best at.”
At the end of his remarks, Kemp addressed the challenges he has overcome in getting this opportunity. During a 2019 preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers — seemingly in the midst of a similar training camp breakthrough — Kemp suffered a gruesome knee injury while making a contested catch. It was officially described as a torn ACL and MCL.
When asked about what winning a roster spot would mean to him, Kemp responded, “I’ll prove something to myself — coming off that injury last year and having the opportunity to play last year and work through that season with the unknowns of how my knee was going to hold up put something in my mind about being able to come back and be where I thought I was before that injury, which I thought I was playing pretty well.
“So I think I’ll be able to prove to myself that I’ve come back, that I’ve put that injury in the past, and I’m moving forward to be a better player — football player — special teams, offense, whatever it is that I can be.”
Two years ago, Kemp appeared to be on track to expand his offensive role for the eventual Super Bowl LIV champion Chiefs — only to lose that opportunity to injury. After a strong preseason — with stand-out performances on both offense and special teams — Kemp appears to have earned another chance to define who he is and — and who he can be — for the Kansas City Chiefs.