KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A year ago center Austin Reiter felt he was good enough to play in the NFL, even if at age 26 he only had one NFL start on under his belt.
“There’s obviously things I can always work on,” Reiter said after Wednes penultimate minicamp practice. “That’s what keeps a pro at this level is not being comfortable and always finding stuff to work on.
“But I think, like I’ve told myself before when I got into this league, I know I’m a capable player and I know I can play at this level.”
With the Chiefs offseason winding down, Reiter finds himself in new territory. He enters the 2019 campaign firmly entrenched along the Chiefs offensive line and ready to take the next step in his still young career.
Reiter started four games for the Chiefs last year when injuries knocked out both starter Mitch Morse and backup Jordan Devey. But he ended the season knowing he could return to a backup role in 2019. Even though the Chiefs signed him to an extension last season believing him ready to become the full-time starter, the job wasn't officially his until Morse departed Kansas City via a free agent deal with the Buffalo Bills.
“With my role here, I think I had another shot,” Reiter said. “It didn't matter to me if he was here or not because it was going to be a battle for the center position either way. But when I saw that, I was extremely happy for him, he's well deserving of that.”
Reiter certainly played well enough last season to earn the starting job.
“I don’t know what letter grade I would give myself, but I think in some situations I think I did well,” Reiter said.
Rather than simply competing for a job this summer, Reiter can focus on the big picture of establishing himself as the signal caller in the trenches while building chemistry with his line mates.
While Reiter saw extensive playing time last season, none of it came alongside right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. While Reiter knows the tendencies of left guard Andrew Wylie well, he's getting used to the movements of Duvernay-Tardif and learning to work in tandem while staying out of each other's way in space.
“That’s kind of a battle when you start playing with new guards and centers,” Reiter said. “I’m extremely satisfied with what we’ve done in these last seven, eight weeks.”
Duvernay-Tardif said he's enjoying playing alongside Reiter.
“What's great with Austin is that you go talk to him in between plays, in between drives and just like, 'OK, how would you approach this, what would you have done differently, what can I do better to make you better.'”
With Morse gone, the Chiefs are focusing on building new chemistry along the offensive live. Reiter believes they have the spirit and tenacity to get there quickly.
“We always have things to work on, but I think the greatest attribute in our room is the effort all around,” Reiter said. “Everybody wants to get better and everybody wants to be the best.”