ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chiefs rookie offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif began his journey from Canada with a single mission.
And it hasn’t wavered 15 days into training camp.
“I’d love to make the team,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “That’s my only goal and that’s been my goal since the first day here.”
The 6-5, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif, the second of two sixth-round picks, appears on his way to achieve the objective if recent training camp practices are an indication.
The Chiefs currently list the native of Montreal, Quebec, third on the depth chart at left guard behind starter Jeff Allen and Jeff Linkenbach.
But Duvernay-Tardif has seen the majority of snaps at the position with the second-team offense in the four practices since the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“He’s improving every day,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “He’s a big, strong and physical kid, and another one that takes a lot of pride in his work. He comes out here and he’s working hard. He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s not making the same mistake twice.”
Many viewed Duvernay-Tardif as a project coming out of McGill University where he played offensive tackle after converting from the defensive line.
He lined up at offensive tackle on the first day of Chiefs rookie minicamp, but has since moved inside to guard.
Duvernay-Tardif indicated his approach to the job has led him to his current path with three training camp practices remaining.
“I think I’m just working hard every day and everybody is working their ass off this whole training camp,” he said. “I just try to do the same, try to learn as fast as I can. I’m still doing some mental mistakes, but I guess I’m physical and that’s what the coach loves.”
Still, Pederson said the Chiefs are evaluating the offensive line.
Linkenbach played 22 snaps (42 percent) on offense compared to 17 snaps (33 percent) for Duvernay-Tardif in the preseason opener.
And the Chiefs have shuffled not just the second-team unit, but the third team where Linkenbach has run at guard and tackle.
“It’s a matter of kind of mixing and matching,” Pederson said. “You want to see all your guys play and evaluate everybody. So there’s going to be a continual rotation at all those positions.”
Meanwhile, Duvernay-Tardif said he spends a lot of down time studying the playbook, watching film and asking questions as he learns the offense.
He credits teammates – especially starting left guard Jeff Allen, starting center Rodney Hudson and backup guard Rishaw Johnson – for mentorship despite the competition on the offensive line.
“The thing that’s great here is the locker room is so nice,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “All the veterans are helping me, and everybody is trying to push in the same direction so we can win the Super Bowl this year.”
Whether Duvernay-Tardif fulfills his goal to make the final roster among the 15 offensive linemen currently in training camp remains to be seen.
As a reference, the Chiefs started the 2013 season with eight offensive linemen on the 53-man roster and two on the practice squad. The Chiefs finished the season with 10 offensive linemen on the 53-man roster and one on the practice squad.
The first preseason roster cut from 90 to 75 is Tuesday, Aug. 26, followed by the final cuts from 75 to the 53-man roster on Saturday, Aug. 30.
Regardless what happens, Duvernay-Tardif absorbs the past three weeks of training camp with a smile.
“It’s a great experience,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “It’s hard physically and mentally. I’m proud of myself to be here, and I just want to keep pushing harder.”
NOTES: Chiefs coach Andy Reid indicated quarterback Alex Smith will likely play the entire first half in the upcoming preseason game against the Carolina Panthers … “I can tell you what I normally do is the one quarterback normally gets the first half,” Reid said, “and then we kind of go from there” … The Chiefs have high hopes for the tight end position for the 2014 season … “It’s definitely a position of strength,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “Guys with a lot of different attributes and ability down there.”