After clinching their eighth consecutive AFC West title, the Kansas City Chiefs have decided to rest their starters against the Los Angeles Chargers as a precaution for next week’s Wild Card playoff matchup. With the prospects of starting in a regular season game, Kansas City’s reserves — such as backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert — acknowledge this unique opportunity that should not be taken for granted.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Gabbert told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “I told the young guys out at walkthrough, ‘Just have fun.’ A lot of guys are going to have a great opportunity to go play for the first time, make a start for the first time. I’ve been fortunate to start quite a few games in the NFL, and these opportunities don’t come around very often, just make the most of them, have fun, cut it loose, just go play ball.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected the former 10th overall pick during the 2011 NFL Draft. Since then, he’s bounced around the league, serving as an experienced backup quarterback for five additional teams throughout his career.
This past offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs, and despite playing only 21 snaps all season for them, the veteran quarterback is confident that he can run the offense efficiently enough for his spot start in Week 18.
“I feel good,” Gabbert said. “It’s a new system, so you’re always working through things, and the installs are new every week. It’s just about how you prepare throughout the week, week in and week out because the game plans do change every week. The longer you’re in a system, the more comfortable you are. It’s been 20, 25 weeks including the summer in this system so it’s going really well.”
Head coach Andy Reid works with Gabbert daily behind the scenes and during practice. He knows the effort Gabbert put in throughout the year and is also confident that he can get the job done this week against the Chargers.
“He (Blaine Gabbert) works so stinking hard in practice,” Reid noted. “It’s great to have that opportunity to go out and play. I mean, he’s been a starter in the league, and so you have confidence that he knows what to do, and he’ll go in there and do well. From a personal standpoint, I’m sure he’s excited about the opportunity to get in and play instead of going out here and practicing every day. That’s what he does, now to have a chance to do it in a game is great.”