Among all the players we have heard from this offseason, starting WR Dwayne Bowe has not been one of them – a rarity for Bowe. As Kent Babb has seen, there’s something different about the third year wide receiver.
Bowe used to run his routes during workouts, and on the walk back toward the huddle, he’d notice a television camera pointed somewhere other than at No. 82. Bowe would correct that, of course, and he’d reward the photographer with a display of flexing or dancing and always some of Kansas City’s finest free entertainment. It was called “The Show,” and for all Bowe lacked in a creative title, he made up for it with a consistent performance.
Bowe had his chance Monday morning. The Chiefs were running passing drills, and quarterback Matt Cassel locked on Bowe, who stuck out a hand and reeled in a tough catch. The cameras swung toward the receiver, out of habit now more than anything, but Bowe jogged quietly back toward the huddle. Bowe explained the reasons for his change.
“I’m older now. This is my third year, a critical year. I want to be more serious and not even give him any reason to think I’m joking around.”
It’s always a huge moment for a guy when the light goes on and if Bowe is serious about staying focused he can take that next step. He’s been good his first two seasons, but not nearly as good as he probably thought. I didn’t mind his showboating nearly as much as I did the drops and we’ll find out if changing his attitude can help with the dropsies.
Todd Haley has said there are no starting jobs assured on the 2009 Chiefs, but I think we can all agree Dwayne Bowe will be the #1 receiver. The question then turns to who will start opposite him. As Bob Gretz reports, right now that man is Devard Darling.
It’s probably one of the biggest surprises of the new season so far that a guy considered an unrestricted free agent bust last year, has pushed himself into the mix in the Chiefs offense. A starting job in June does not mean he goes back to Baltimore in September and takes the field for the first offensive play. But right now, Darling is getting the chance to build rapport with QB Matt Cassel, thanks to those reps with the first team.
“I’m excited about the opportunity. It’s too early to think things are set. There’s a lot of work left to do, then training camp. I’m just going out and working as hard as I can every day that I’m here. That’s what I’ve done through this whole off-season and that’s what I’m going to continue to do. You hear from the coaches all the time that they are evaluating,” said Darling. “So I try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”
People forget that Darling started last year in the Chiefs offense. It was a spot he held for the first five games of the season. He caught just four passes in those games and the only one to remember was the 68-yard play where he split the Patriots defense in the fourth quarter and gave the Chiefs a chance to beat New England. Right after Darling catch and run, Bowe dropped a TD pass in the end zone and the Chiefs racked up the first of their 14 defeats.
That play should have been Darling’s ticket to more action in the Chiefs offense. But something got in his way. First, it was the problems at quarterback with injuries to Brodie Croyle and then Damon Huard. Through the first five weeks, Darling caught just four passes, none longer than 11 yards. That’s when Darling lost his starting job, as Mark Bradley advanced to the first unit after being signed off the waiver wire. Darling did not start again until Bradley was injured late in the season. And it was in the last month that Tyler Thigpen found him again, as Darling caught seven passes in the final three games, including a 33-yard TD catch against Miami. Darling isn’t sure what happened in between.
“I can’t really tell you what happened. Nobody ever said anything to me. I didn’t get a lot of opportunities. It was a bad year, the worst season I was part of in my career. It wasn’t just that I didn’t get a chance in the offense. It was the losing. It was just awful. We have a chance to overcome that. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get better every day and help this team win some games.”
Looks like the wide receiving corps means business this offseason. The only thing better than a focused Bowe is a bunch of motivated guys behind him on the depth chart pushing him all through training camp and into the season. If Matt Cassel is going to have a good first year with the Chiefs he not only needs Bowe to step up, but someone — be it Darling or Webb or Bobby Engram — has to be a legitimate threat on the opposite side.
Scott Pioli surprised a lot of people when he decided to draft Missouri OT in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft. Over at Arrowhead Pride they sat down with Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune to get the lowdown on Brown.
AP: Did you have draft predictions for Colin Brown?
DM: I wasn’t sure Brown would be drafted at all. And neither was he. I thought maybe his size alone would get him some looks in the seventh round, certainly in free agency. But there didn’t seem to be much buzz about him leading up to the draft.
AP: What do you think the Chiefs saw in Brown to draft him in the fifth round?
DM: His size and power are impossible to ignore. But he’s pretty agile for a 6-8 guy who weighs in the 330-pound range. He was out on an island in Missouri’s system, a scheme that uses extraordinarily wide splits between linemen. Plus, he never had a tight end lined up next to him to help block. So, for a guy that big to have to cover that much ground was pretty impressive. The style of offense was different than what he’ll experience in the NFL, but the transition shouldn’t be as difficult when it comes to pass blocking.
Make sure you check out the entire interview on AP, it gives a unique view into what Brown brings to the table. When the Chiefs took Brown I thought there were much safer picks left on the board, though in reality I don’t know if there is such thing as a safe pick that late in the draft. Brown clearly is a project, but if Todd Haley’s staff can turn him into an NFL tackle, he would be one of the best picks from the ’09 draft class. It will be interesting to see how far he progresses in training camp next month.