Intriguing under the radar players

Jun 17, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chiefs defensive back Malcolm Bronson (41) runs drills during minicamp. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chiefs defensive back Malcolm Bronson (41) runs drills during minicamp. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Emerging players from the Chiefs’ organized team activities (OTAs) such as tight end Demetrius Harris or wide receiver Weston Dressler aren’t secrets entering training camp. Defensive end Mike Catapano or rookie guard Zach Fulton also fall in that list.

But for every player in the spotlight, there are others flying under the radar, all of whom could surprise when the pads come on.

Here are five to watch in the coming weeks.

• Malcolm Bronson, free safety: The second-year pro tops the list based on his history and what he did during OTAs.

The 5-11, 192-pound defensive back spent the 2013 regular season on the Chiefs practice squad. He originally signed in May 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of McNeese State where he had a decorated career as All-American and three-time first-team All-Southland Conference selection.

A season-ending knee injury suffered during the early part of the 2012 college football season likely affected his status for the 2013 NFL Draft. But the full year of recovery should bode well for Bronson, as he’s familiar with defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme.

Bronson displayed versatility during OTAs. It was Bronson who shifted from free safety to play the nickel position with the first-team defense during 11-on-11 drills when cornerback Chris Owens missed time with a hamstring injury.

• Frankie Hammond, wide receiver: The second-year wide receiver arguably has the toughest road for a spot on the 53-man roster when considering the Chiefs enter training camp with 13 wide receivers.

Still, Hammond, who possesses 4.44 40-yard dash speed, could make a push given he spent the 2013 season the practice squad.

The 6-1, 184-pound former Florida Gator is familiar with the offense and can contribute on special teams as a returner, a virtual must for any NFL team’s fourth or fifth wide receiver.

Hammond spent time fielding punts during OTAs and minicamp.

• Joe McKnight, running back: McKnight, who signed a reserve/future deal in January, joins the Chiefs after sitting out the 2013 season following his release by the New York Jets.

The fourth-year pro is refocused with a second chance and he’ll compete against Cyrus Gray and Charcandrick West for the No. 3 spot. That battle also depends on how the Chiefs eventually list rookie De’Anthony Thomas, who can play slot receiver.

Meanwhile, McKnight offers an explosive complement to Thomas in the return game.

While with the Jets, McKnight totaled 2,205 yards on 76 kickoff returns (29 yards per return). He scored two return touchdowns, including a team-record 107 yards in 2011. As a punt returner, he had seven returns for 69 yards.

• Daniel Sorensen, strong safety: The undrafted rookie free agent has an opportunity to compete against Jerron McMillian for the backup spot behind All-Pro safety Eric Berry.

This battle carries significance because nobody wants a repeat of the 2011 season when the team lacked strong safety depth after Berry was lost for the season to an ACL injury.

The Chiefs didn’t address the position with a veteran free-agent signing at the start of the league’s calendar year or through the draft.

Sorensen turned heads during rookie minicamp with two interceptions on the first day before settling with second- and third-team repetitions once the veterans reported for OTAs and minicamp.

The former Brigham Young standout measures 6-2, 208 pounds and possesses 4.54 40-yard dash speed.

• Josh Martin, outside linebacker/defensive end: If it’s speed on the edge the Chiefs desire, they certainly have it with Martin.

The 6-3, 245-pound Martin, who played collegiately at Columbia University, ran a 4.57 40-yard dash during his Pro Day workout at Rutgers.

Martin originally joined the Chiefs in 2013 as an undrafted free agent and spent eight weeks on the practice squad. He appeared in five games with one start and recorded eight tackles and an assist. Martin also recorded three special teams tackles and a forced fumble.

The second-year pro offers an option as a backup outside pass rusher where he’ll compete against rookie Dee Ford, and veterans Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses.