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Trey Smith’s ‘violent’ blocking brings great joy to Andy Heck

Kansas City’s offensive line coach had plenty to say before Sunday’s matchup in Houston.

NFL: NOV 20 Chiefs at Chargers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Midway through the second quarter of last Sunday’s 34-28 win over the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs faced a second-and-goal situation — in which lineman Trey Smith provided the team with one of the best plays by a Chiefs offensive player this season.

“I made the comment to him that, ‘Hey, man, this is illegal in 49 states’,” offensive line coach Andy Heck joked of Smith’s pancake block on Thursday. “Apparently, it’s legal in Colorado.”

Jokes aside, Smith’s effort and execution on this play represent everything Heck preaches as an offensive line coach. Smith begins the play by erasing a blitzing linebacker with one hand. He then hustles to clear a path for running back Jerrick Mckinnon by completely obliterating All-Pro safety Justin Simmons as Kansas City scores its second touchdown of the afternoon.

“Honestly, it was one of those beautiful, sweet moments,” said Heck. “Besides the fact [Smith] did it with violent — within the rules — action, he executed the play, which takes some patience and restraint. But then you got to get to where you got to get. Then let’s go and knock someone down. It’s a great feeling.”

Heck said that for an offensive lineman, that feeling is about as good as it gets.

“You take a guy, you drive him against his will and you put him on his back? Put two guys down — then spring your [running] back and then feel that back go through for the score? That’s a great feeling. For me — to watch our guys execute in a moment like that — I feel great for them. It brings me great joy — which is why I love coaching.”

Heck’s love for coaching stems from his 11-year career as an NFL offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Washington. He’s now been an NFL coach for 18 years — including 10 seasons with Kansas City. Although his line has sometimes been inconsistent this season, Heck emphasized on Thursday that his players are working hard — and improving with each passing day.

“Orlando is a true professional — and loves the game,” said the coach of starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. “The thing I like about him — and appreciate about him — is that he comes to work every day. He’s into it — and he understands. He sees what it is that we’re trying to do and what he needs to work on — just like all of our guys. He goes about the business of working on it every day.

“So I’ve seen progress as we’ve moved through the season here. It’s going to be a work in progress for all of us — and it always is.”

Heck also updated his listeners on third-year tackle Lucas Niang, who started the season on the team’s Reserve/PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list after suffering a knee injury in Week 17 of last season.

“It’s good to have Lucas back and working,” noted Heck. “I think he looks great. One of the things we love about him is his athleticism — especially for such a big man. His feet look tremendous. His pass sets have picked up right where he left off. He stayed into it mentally and has been in all of our meetings; [he’s a] super sharp guy. I like the work that he’s been putting in.”

Heck also likes what he’s seen in fifth-round rookie Darian Kinnard, who has been displaying some versatility.

“He played the tackle position,” said Heck, “and then we’ve been getting him some more guard work. I think he’s got that kind of flex [where] he could play either-or, but he’s taken to that guard position in there — and looks great.”

The success of a football team often comes down to how well it performs in the trenches. Heck takes great pride in preparing his players — and then, seeing them turn that preparation into game-day results.

“You’ve heard the saying, ‘Let’s plan to work, then work the plan’?” he asked reporters. “So that’s the fun part of the game. We put together a plan — and then [we] watch our guys go out and execute it. For me, that’s about as good a feeling as I could get in this sport — since my days of being able to knock someone [down] are over.”

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