When a wide receiver reaches his second year with a team — particularly the Kansas City Chiefs, where pass-catchers are required to know much more than just the routes they will run — it is common for them to say they are much more comfortable with the scheme.
But that’s not the case with Kansas City’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Now preparing for his sophomore season under Reid — and following the departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster — he now stands a chance of becoming the team’s leading wide receiver.
“I feel as good as I did last year, man,” he told reporters after Wednesday’s minicamp practice at the team’s practice facility. “I’m a quick learner. I’m a competitor. So there’s nothing that I’m ever gonna be afraid of.
“Obviously, [the] second year [in] the system is always good, but I feel like I picked it up pretty quick last year as well. So it wasn’t really that new to me after about two weeks or so.”
Watching the other receivers working around him, the former Green Bay Packers player thinks everyone is doing well — particularly newcomer Richie James, who joined the team as a free agent from the New York Giants during the offseason.
“Richie’s been doing a hell of a job,” said Valdes-Scantling. “He’s a Florida boy — we’re from close to the same area — so high expectations [for] him [from] me. But you know, he’s done a great job. [He] came in and doesn’t talk much; just goes to work, learns the plays and gets after it.
“[It’s the] same with a lot of those guys — I mean, pretty much our whole room. [We’re] getting after it. It’s the passing camp — and we’re the receivers — so we catch all the passes. They’ve been doing a good job learning it. [They’re] making some mistakes, but fixing them and keeping it rolling.”
Valdes-Scantling maintains that the attitude that makes all of this possible trickles down from Reid.
“I think it starts with our head man,” he contended. “He’s the same guy every single day — no matter [if it’s] win, lose, draw, Super Bowl, playoffs or whatever. He’s gonna be the same person. And his standard — that he expects us to play at every day — is going to stay the same. And I think that’s what makes him the best coach to ever do this thing.”
And Valdes-Scantling continues to feel that way — even though he admits Reid has sometimes given him what tight end Travis Kelce called “the Eyebrow.”
“Coach Reid doesn’t really have a lot of emotion,” explained the wideout. “So if you do get some emotion out of Coach Reid, it’s like one of those, ‘Oh, I might have messed up for real.’
“It doesn’t happen [often] — but I have gotten that before. It was actually in the meeting room, so that’s for another day. But yeah... I actually did get it once. [It was] not a good feeling. It’s like when you get in trouble [with] your granddad or something.”
But even if he finds himself in trouble with Grandpa, Valdes-Scantling remains confident in himself — even though he accumulated just 687 yards (and two touchdowns) during his first season in Kansas City.
“I know I can play football,” he insisted. “I know I can play football really well. It’s nothing about what happened in the playoffs or in the regular season. Just throw me the ball and good things happen; that’s kind of how I’ve always been.
“[I] never get concerned with the numbers, never get concerned with what happened on [a particular] play, man. [I] just keep going. I believe in myself — more than anybody — and I won’t ever change. That starts with my faith, so I know who I believe in — and that’s kind of it.”