KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tight end Adam Schiltz may not have the numbers in limited action through the Chiefs’ two preseason games
He has appeared in 20 combined snaps on offense and four on special teams, after all, mostly coming late in the games.
“I’ve just been getting in the fourth quarter and we’ve been winning,” Schiltz said. “We want to run out the clock, we’re trying to win the game.”
The former Emporia State star, however, showed during training camp he could be ready for more, evidenced on the final day of camp when hauled in two touchdowns during 11-on-11 red-zone drills.
And a lot of Schiltz’s growth comes from spending the 2014 season on the practice squad, where he had an opportunity to learn the scheme and that process is starting to pay off.
“Just coming from last year to this year,” he said, “I’m a 100 percent different person, a different player, my confidence level is high. I know exactly what I need to do and performing at a high level.”
Schiltz, who finished his college career with 105 receptions for 1,290 yards and six touchdowns, didn’t have an easy path when the Chiefs claimed him off waivers from the Tennessee Titans on July 26, 2014.
The native of Ponca City, Okla., joined the Chiefs two days into training camp, and then had to quickly absorb coach Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast offense on the fly.
Not an accommodating task when considering the system’s complexity, but the time with the practice squad also allowed him to gain valuable repetitions against one of the league’s top defenses against the pass.
“You have to be flawless when you’re blocking them to run routes against them,” Schiltz said. “It’s helped me in what I’ve learned about defenses and it’s helped me understand how I need to run my routes. It’s benefited me this year.”
The 6-5, 256-pound Schiltz, who originally entered the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans, also gained strength by spending the offseason in Kansas City to work with strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin.
Tight ends coach Tom Melvin took notice of the difference.
“His biggest thing was the offseason,” Melvin said. “He transformed himself physically, which, coming from a smaller school, that’s always the first thing.
“They didn’t have the training tables, they didn’t have the weight staff, they didn’t have it quite as regimented of a routine as you have in a bigger school. It took him this offseason to transform himself to where now, physically, he can do the things that he wanted to last year that couldn’t hold up over time or couldn’t handle then.”
Schiltz agreed with his position coach.
“I can honestly say last year I wasn’t as developed as I needed to be to play in the NFL,” Schiltz said. “This year, I feel 100 percent different and my confidence level is high and I’m just ready to get going.”
Another area Schiltz worked on was his blocking, and he used the time whenever he saw the field during the past two preseason games to show he could perform.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to catch the ball much,” Schiltz said, “but I’ve had the opportunity to block and that’s one of my skills that I needed to get better at. And just being able to get that on film to show people that I’ve gotten better, that’s huge.”
The Chiefs could use blocking tight ends with a view to return to utilizing three-tight end sets after enjoying success with Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris midway through the 2014 season.
Harris’ broken foot in Week 10, however, shelved the formation the rest of the way, and Harris hasn’t practiced since undergoing a second foot surgery in May.
But the Chiefs offered a three-tight end formation since organized team activities featuring starter Travis Kelce with a combination of rookie James O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Taylor, Richard Gordon and Schiltz.
Schiltz’s performances during training camp in two- and three-tight end sets have the coaching staff’s eye.
“He’s an extremely smart kid,” Melvin said, “So he can play all three of the tight end sets when we have all three of those guys on the field at the same time. He’s a great asset to us in that case.”
Despite impressing the coaching staff, Schiltz understands he faces a challenge leading to the first wave of roster cuts on Sept. 1, and then the next series of moves to reach the initial 53-man roster.
But he put in the necessary work through learning the complex playbook and gaining strength to improve as a player in the Chiefs’ scheme in order to show he belongs.
And if that’s not enough, Schiltz prefers to leave the decision to a higher power.
“Trusting in God, knowing that He’s going to take care of me,” Schiltz said. “It just benefits and allows me to go out there and play with no stress or anxiety and do my best.”