Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s Kansas City Chiefs training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, offensive lineman Andrew Wylie said that while he sees himself as a tackle, he takes pride in his versatility and ability to play anywhere along the offensive line.
“I still work both guard and tackle in the offseason,” said the sixth-year NFL player. “I try to be that versatile piece that I kind of always have been here, so I don’t stop working on my guard reps — and I continue to work on the left side as well. So, the offseason is always kind of the same for me: working guard and tackle.”
In 2022, the difference is that Wylie was a free agent this past offseason — and in theory, he could have left the Chiefs to play somewhere else. After starting all three of Kansas City’s postseason games, Wylie entered free agency looking for an opportunity to start on the edge of an NFL offensive line.
Thankfully, he didn’t have to look far for that opportunity. With Lucas Niang still on the road to recovery from the torn patellar tendon that he suffered late last season, the Chiefs’ starting right tackle spot remained open. Despite selecting Darian Kinnard in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chiefs gave Wylie the first shot at staking his claim on the starting job.
“It was kind of implied that I would be out at tackle this year — at least from my understanding,” recalled Wylie of his conversations with the team. “But you know, I just take it as a kind of personal responsibility to be able to continue to do both guard and tackle.”
But Wylie also understands that the team isn’t going to simply hand the starting right tackle position over to him, either. He knows that he is in a daily battle to earn the job.
“Nothing is ever guaranteed,” he reminded reporters, “especially on this team with the amount of skill we have in the o-line room. There’s competition every day.”
Wylie’s first action at right tackle came on December 20th, 2020 when he filled in for the now-retired Mitchell Schwartz — a trial by fire from which Wylie says he learned a lot.
“Now I know a lot more of what’s going on,” he reflected. “In that game, I was just playing guard on the outside. Now my game has a lot more to it out at right tackle. Switching up sets, I can see the defense a lot better now, too.
“I’ve grown a lot out at right tackle — and it’s very comfortable for me.”
The opportunity to learn and grow in a new position has been invaluable to Wylie, and he says that it’s the pursuit of improvement that keeps him motivated.
“I’m very critical — as we all are in the O-lin room — as is Coach [Andy] Heck when he’s critiquing us. So there’s a numerous amount of things that I continued in the off-season to work on — and [I am} still working on every day in camp: standing square, shooting the right hand — you know, specifically targeting the part of the body that you want to punch.
“Yeah, [we are] very, very, critical of ourselves.”
Heading into the 2022 season, the Kansas City offensive line is one of the team’s biggest strengths — and for Wylie and the rest of the offensive line, the mission is simple and clear.
“We’re expecting to go out there and kick a lot of asses this year,” he said.