KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito knows a thing or two about making the transition from playing football at a smaller college to the NFL.
The eighth-year pro signed as an undrafted free agent out of Maine with the New York Jets in 2007 where he spent six seasons before joining the Chiefs last year as a starting defensive end.
Another thing DeVito, 29, is aware of from his NFL experience is learning from veterans willing to help a young player, and he’s more than happy to pass along knowledge.
“When I first got in the league there were a lot of older guys,” DeVito said Wednesday following Day Eight of organized team activities (OTAs). “They took me right under their wing and helped me out.
“I’m taking that same approach. I’m going to continue to help guys out and do my best to mentor them because I can handle what I do on the field. Me helping someone else out or not isn’t going to make or break that. I’m always going to mentor and help guys out.”
One of those young players fortunate enough to be on the same team as DeVito is second-year pro Mike Catapano, who like DeVito played at a smaller college.
Catapano, an alumnus of Princeton, played at 270 pounds last season as a defensive end. But the offseason dedication to improve and gain bulk has DeVito’s attention.
“It’s unbelievable that jump he’s made from last year to this year,” DeVito said. “Usually you see a guy put on 10-15 pounds slow down a bit. It’s not the case. He’s more explosive and faster than ever. Mike’s going to be a dangerous weapon and I’m glad we have him on our side.”
Of course, there’s some playful ribbing given Catapano’s Ivy League education.
“Sometimes we ask him,” DeVito said, “‘What were you thinking? You could have made this money with your brain, but you’re out here killing yourself.’”
But from a football point of view, Catapano, 23, could be elite in his veteran teammate’s eyes.
“He’s made the jump and he made it a lot faster than I did,” DeVito said. “Like I saw with Dontari (Poe) last year, you just see something in these guys, there’s something special there. I see that with Mike now.”
Meanwhile, assuming a leadership role comes easy for DeVito and many of the Chiefs’ veterans.
And from DeVito’s point of view, a group of veterans taking care of the younger players has benefits as they grow into the defensive scheme.
“It’s easier for us to relay that to the younger guys and teach the younger guys because we’re not trying to pick it up as well,” he said. “It does have a ripple effect to the second and third groups.”
Outside linebacker Justin Houston and cornerback Brandon Flowers were not present for an eighth straight voluntary OTA.
Rookie inside linebacker Ben Johnson (hamstring), cornerback David Van Dyke (hamstring), cornerback Chris Owens and wide receiver Junior Hemingway were also not present. Hemingway has missed the past two workouts with an illness, while Owens didn’t finish Day Seven’s workout.
While the team hasn’t provided an update on Owens, his status should be known by Friday when coach Andy Reid addresses the media.
Tight end Travis Kelce (knee) and wide receiver Kyle Williams (knee) were present, but continue to observe from the side.
Rookie running back/specialist De’Anthony Thomas continues to miss OTAs due to Oregon’s quarter system. He’s expected back for next week’s mandatory minicamp.
• Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who missed the last four workouts with a hamstring injury, returned to the field. He participated in individual warm-ups, and then didn’t participate in any team-related drills.
• Cornerback Sean Smith, who was cited with a DUI early Monday morning, ran with the second-team defense for a second straight day. Marcus Cooper took Smith’s side on the right side, while Ron Parker was on the left side. With Chris Owens not on the field, free safety Malcolm Bronson defended the slot.
• Sean Smith lined up on the left side with the second-team defense, with rookie Phillip Gaines taking the right side, which is Smith’s normal spot.
• Wide receiver Weston Dressler enjoyed a nice day during 11-on-11 drills making athletic catches, both passes coming from quarterback Alex Smith. The first attention-grabbing reception came on a full extension diving catch near the right sideline. The second catch came as Dressler went down the seam from the slot and made a leaping grab in front of the defender, landed and took off down the field. No doubt about it when it comes to wide receivers who were not on last season’s roster consistently commanding attention the last three weeks are Dressler and undrafted free agent Albert Wilson.
• Speaking of athletic catches, a daily update on tight end Demetrius Harris, who made another such grab over the middle of the field. He’s easily been one of the stars of OTAs.
• Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray showed his arm strength during 11-on-11 drills when he zipped a ball in a tight window between two defenders to hit wide receiver Fred Williams.
• Free safety Husain Abdullah tipped a quarterback Chase Daniel pass intended for tight end Sean McGrath in middle of field during team drills. Strong safety Eric Berry collected the deflection for an interception.
• Abdullah had an interception of his own, picking off quarterback Alex Smith during the first set of 11-on-11 drills.
• Wide receiver Donnie Avery toasted cornerback Ron Parker on a go-route during 11-on-11 drills. Smith found Avery in stride for what would’ve been a touchdown in a game. Still, Avery also dropped a pass inside the 5-yard line during red zone drills. on a go-route. Smith hit Avery in stride for a deep TD. But Avery also dropped a pass inside the 5-yard line during red zone 11-on-11 drills. Good with the bad, mostly good today for Avery.
• Day Eight’s Defensive Play of the Day goes to strong safety Jerron McMillian on a bang-bang play. During team drills, McMillian made a simultaneous catch with tight end Richard Gordon. Both fought for the ball for roughly two yards before McMillian ripped the ball out of Gordon’s hands as both players fell to the ground.
• The Offensive Play of the Day goes to recently signed WR Deon Anthony, a converted quarterback out of Troy. Anthony and cornerback Sean Smith were locked up down the field during an 11-on-11 drill when quarterback Tyler Bray lofted a pass in their vicinity. Anthony, who stands 6-0, 214 pounds, out jumped cornerback Sean Smith, who measures 6-3, 218 pounds, to come down the reception.