Chiefs mailbag: Six days of OTAs revisited

Most questions on Twitter can be answered within the character count, but there are some requiring more than 140 characters to offer an effective response.

A Chiefs mailbag is born.

In this initial installment of what will be a weekly piece, here are answers to questions in recent days surrounding tight end Demetrius Harris, wide receiver Albert Wilson and special teams.

This is the tweet that started the wheels turning on doing a mailbag because it’s a very good question on tight end Demetrius Harris, who has lit up organized team activities (OTAs) with one athletic catch after another.

Last season was a developmental period for Harris, who spent 14 weeks on the practice squad before landing on practice squad/injured reserve. He’s put on weight this season, from 230 pounds last season to 257.

But more importantly, the 6-foot-7 former college basketball player has adjusted from playing power forward to NFL tight end and impressed his position coach.

“He had the physical part because in basketball the muscles you use are different than in football,” Chiefs tight end coach Tom Melvin told me last week. “He had to kind of develop them, so now he’s physically able to compete. He has to translate that to now playing fast on the field and you’ve seen that. He’s playing with a lot of confidence because his physical ability to do it is there.”

Ultimately, I don’t believe the Chiefs can hide Harris on the practice squad for another year if he carries this momentum into training camp and sustains it once the team goes full-go in pads.

Trying to place Harris on the practice squad leaves him vulnerable to a team claiming him off waivers after final cuts. If he survives that process and returns to the Chiefs practice squad, now there’s a risk of watching another team signing him to their active roster.

The Chiefs typically had three tight ends on the active 53-man regular season roster throughout last year, and will have a major decision to make when it comes to Harris. The biggest factor when it’s decision time is the overall health of Travis Kelce, who recovers from an October microfracture surgery.

Speaking of Kelce:

I’m not worried yet because his recovery timeline from microfracture knee surgery is about right.

Kelce has been present for OTA, but not participating. But the biggest reason for optimism occurred during Day Six’s post-workout media session when Chiefs coach Andy Reid indicated Travis Kelce (knee) should be available for training camp.

“He’s getting close,” Reid said. “He’s been working his tail off. He and (athletic trainer) Rick (Burkholder) have been spending a lot time together.”

Feel free to peruse this piece to get caught up on the current state of the tight end position.

You’re not alone in appreciating the rookie’s skill set.

From what I’ve observed of the former Georgia State Panther during rookie minicamp and the last six OTAs, he’s quick, catches the ball well with his hands and can contribute on special teams as a returner.

The undrafted free agent also caught the eye of assistant head coach/wide receivers coach David Culley.

“That’s not surprising with Albert,” Culley told me last week on Wilson’s consistency. “What surprising is the fact for us we felt like the kid was probably drafted somewhere and he wasn’t. We were very fortunate to get him in here as a free agent.”

There’s currently a crowd at the wide receiver position – 12 to be exact now with the recent signing of former Troy quarterback Deon Anthony, who will play receiver in the NFL – but Wilson is definitely in the mix.

Of course, the Chiefs could hope to eventually place Wilson on the practice squad, but he’s no secret.

Wilson told me during rookie minicamp that he received calls from “probably all of them” when asked how many NFL teams contacted him after the draft. He added he chose to sign with the Chiefs after receiving a telephone call from coach Andy Reid.

“He told me he felt like I had the best opportunity here in Kansas City,” Wilson said of his conversation with Reid. “I believe him. I put my trust in him.”

A fifth wide receiver typically contributes on special teams, and Wilson can definitely do that. So to answer the question, I think the odds are pretty good if he performs in training camp.

The rest of the tweet reads: “better than Daniels right now, even though there not in pass.”

I don’t believe people are giving up on Tyler Bray.

Instead, it’s more folks wondering if he will rise to the challenge of holding off Aaron Murray for the inevitable battle at the No. 3 quarterback spot.

The Chiefs under this regime are all about competition and it’s not lip service. Murray was drafted for a reason and he’ll push Bray barring a setback with his surgically repaired knee.

While the Chiefs could decide to keep four quarterbacks, I think that’s a stretch at this early stage of the offseason.

Bray has the arm strength and looked good throwing the deep ball on Day Six of OTAs. But he also made a bad decision to throw into double coverage while to hit Weston Dressler on a post pattern, which led to an interception.

Meanwhile, prepare for “Battle Stations.”

The No. 3 quarterback competition will be a good one to monitor during training camp, among so many other battles on the roster.

I’d put it at an even 50-50 because rookie kicker Cairo Santos, who signed as an undrafted free agent on May 19, won’t go away quietly if there’s truly an all-out competition between Santos and Ryan Succop.

Here’s a little nugget last week from special teams coordinator Dave Toub on the rookie kicker from Tulane:

“I think Santos is an NFL kicker,” Toub said. “Whether he’s kicking for our team or kicking for another team, he’s going to be in the NFL as a kicker. The ball just flies off his foot. He’s very talented, he’s very consistent in his technique. He’s a real good guy to have in camp right now.”

There’s also potential economics to consider.

Santos’ deal is $420,000 this season, and the Chiefs are paying Succop $1.95 million in 2014 and $2.75 million in 2015, according to the NFLPA database.

The 6-0, 206-pound cornerback is absolutely worth keeping an eye on. Parker has the size this current regime covets in defensive backs and he possesses a 4.36 40-yard dash time.

From what I’ve observed, Parker has made some plays in OTAs, albeit in shorts and helmet. But I subscribe to the philosophy that cornerback and wide receiver are easier positions to come away with an initial read before they go to pads.

What also grabbed my attention on Day Six of OTAs is Parker ran with the first-team defense in cornerback Sean Smith’s spot. Smith was absent due to personal reasons.

Contributing writer Desmond Bailey did a nice story on Parker in early May that’s worth a read.


Have a Chiefs-related question? Tweet them to @HerbieTeope. But note only my Twitter followers will get questions featured here.