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Chiefs mention ‘packages’ for Rashee Rice, Justyn Ross

From Skyy Moore to Justyn Ross, Kansas City’s general manager expects Andy Reid to find a way to use everyone.

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After the Kansas City Chiefs announced their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday, seven wide receivers remained with the squad: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Richie James, and Justyn Ross. Going so heavy at the position group marked a first in the 11 seasons since head coach Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach lauded the variety of talents available in the wide receivers’ room — and expressed confidence Reid’s staff will know how to divide touches in the passing game. It was also implied that a season-ending injury to tight end Jody Fortson — a 6’4” red zone target — may have affected the decision to start the season with seven wide receivers.

“We have different types of receivers,” Veach explained. “Whether they are guys like Richie James that handle a bunch of stuff with the return game, then you have Ross as a size guy. We lost Jody, and that was someone Coach always had packages for in for in short yardage and red zone. I don’t think there’s ever a shortcoming of creativity with our coaches.

“We have a talented, deep receiving corps. They’re all different in their ways — and Coach just does a great job of maximizing what they can do and implementing packages for guys.”

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Fans should expect certain receivers to line up everywhere in the offense while others — at least initially — are used in more situational roles.

“We’ll have a core group of guys that can handle every package and be involved in every package,” Veach predicted, “and then we’ll have a group of guys where these [plays] are kind of tailored and tweaked to what they can do — and they’re going to highlight their skill set. I think having those seven receivers gives us a variety of different ways to attack a defense. We certainly trust our coaching staff to maximize their abilities — as they’ve done in the past with these different types of wideouts.”

Veach expects Skyy Moore to take on a significant role in his second season. His expectations were a bit more tempered for Rashee Rice — the Chiefs’ second-round selection from this year’s NFL Draft — and Justyn Ross. Nominally in his second season, Ross missed all of his rookie year on injured reserve rehabbing a foot injury.

“These young guys — there’s so much verbiage in this playbook,” Veach reiterated. “There’s so much dialogue [and] so many tweaks to every assignment in regard to where they align and how they look at coverage and how they alter routes. It’s super complicated, and these guys, over time start to figure it out.

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

“I think we’ll see a big jump with Skyy. I think what you’ll see from both Justyn and Rashee as the games go on, you’ll see them probably have certain packages. Hopefully, they’ll continue to grow and progress and produce on the field. That will lead to more utilization within the offense — and graduating from a package player to an every-down receiver.

“I think the hopes with all these young guys are for them to gradually make that transition. I think we have a bunch of guys who are candidates to do that on this roster. I think in the meantime, Coach does a great job of finding what they do and putting them in position to gain their confidence and help us on game day. If they’re able to do that, it will naturally progress over the volume they can handle for a full course of a season.”

His comments are likely not what observers want to hear about Ross — who arguably was the story of the Chiefs’ offseason after showing the tantalizing skills this preseason he teased as a freshman at Clemson during the 2019 College Football Playoff. After missing most of the last three years battling a spinal condition and foot injuries, he appears back to form and ready to contribute.

While Ross may be one of Veach’s greatest finds in player acquisition, the general manager acknowledged the work done to bring the 6-foot-4 wide receiver to this point. He also identified this spring’s organized team activities (OTAs) as a turning point in Ross’ recovery.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs OTA Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

“First, credit to the kid — and credit to our training staff,” Veach declared. “[Ross] came here last year, and [he] had some injuries at Clemson. Then, he had kind of another injury that progressively got worse here last year. Our doctors identified right off the bat and shut him down.

“We just really put our trust in the kid and our training staff to get him where he needs to be. Did that, and he came out here in OTAs, and it was a little bit of a feeling out process. I think like halfway through OTAs, you could really see him get that confidence up and that belief up. He’s just progressively gotten better.”

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