St. Joseph, Mo. – Over a 20-minute stretch of practice this week
Now in his fourth year as the Chiefs starting quarterback, Cassel has plenty of offensive options at his disposal - and that’s without the team’s leading receiver from the past three seasons –
Year four is a big year, no doubt, but Cassel says he isn’t feeling any extra pressure. In fact, Cassel feels more comfortable than ever thanks to the multitude of weapons expected to surround him in the Chiefs offense this season.
“There is no doubt that this is the best personnel group we’ve had since we’ve been here in Kansas City,” said Cassel. “Now it's just about us coming together as an offensive unit. You never know until you get out there how you are going to mesh as a unit. Like I’ve said before, I think we are moving in the right direction and making progress every day.”
After beginning camp slowly, Kansas City’s offense has started stacking productive practices together. The first-team produced several highlights during Tuesday’s night practice, including Cassel firing touchdowns to Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston in red zone scrimmage snaps.
More importantly, Cassel has limited his mistakes in the passing game throughout the first week of camp.
A hungry and improved defense featuring the return
“I think it takes the pressure off of me,” Cassel said of his surrounding talent. “When you have a lot of guys around you, at the quarterback position, it leaves your hands and you let them make the plays. It makes it a little bit easier on me.”
Dexter McCluster continues to work at wide receiver during training camp, though he’s still listed as a running back on the Chiefs official roster. The listing is just one of several reasons to believe McCluster’s days in Kansas City’s backfield haven’t expired.
McCluster has been involved in a number of different personnel groupings early in training camp. He’s new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s swing-man, expected to factor into the offense based off individual game matchups.
“What we do as a staff is we try to put them in good positions to be successful, and it’s our job to do that and it’s their job to go out there and try to execute it the best they can,” Daboll said.
For McCluster that means being ready to step in as a wide receiver, running back or return man. The majority of his looks have come out of the slot thus far in St. Joseph, but he’s been noticeably active in other offensive roles as well.
“Honestly, I like the fact that I can play multiple roles and I like the challenge,” McCluster said. “I feel that the running back coach and the wide receiver coach are doing just as much to help me get better at that position as the next one, so right now I feel like I am mastering both.”
McCluster played exclusively at running back last season, leading the Chiefs regular rushers by averaging 4.5-yards per carry. He finished the year second on the team with 516 rushing yards on 114 carries.
A high-ankle sprain hampered McCluster throughout his rookie season in Kansas City as he bounced between running back and wide receiver. He rushed 18 times for 71 yards (3.9 avg.) and caught 21 passes for 209 yards (10.9 avg.) in seven starts – five at receiver and two at running back.
“I have no preference,” McCluster said. “I think it makes me more versatile to throw defenses off balance. I can lineup as a slot and lineup as a running back. Right now I have to master both so whenever my number is called I’m there.”
Exactly how the Chiefs use McCluster this season might change on a week-to-week basis.
“In the end zone - that’s where I like him best, and I think he has the capability of getting there as a slot receiver, a running back, a kick returner,” said head coach Romeo Crennel. “All of those things, he will be helpful to us.”
Take Five: Quick-Hitters from Tuesday’s Night Practice
1. Heartland Health Watch: A decision was made prior to practice for Jamaal Charles and
3. Red Zone work was the flavor of the evening with the first and second-team offense converting touchdowns to open scrimmage snaps (Matt Cassel to Jonathan Baldwin and
4. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and head coach Romeo Crennel went unscripted for the final set of red zone work. Cassel connected with Steve Breaston in the front right corner of the end zone to give the No. 1 offense a win. The defense forced red zone field goals against the second and third offenses.
Coming out to training camp 2nite for the 1st time. Excited to see an be around the guys!—
#ChiefsCamp Martin Rucker(@RuckerSouthSide) July 31, 2012