KANSAS CITY, Mo. – From rookie minicamp to the recently concluded first set of voluntary organized team activities (OTAs), the 5-foot-7, 179-pound import from Canada has been hard to ignore.
Weston Dressler lines up wide or in the slot during 11-on-11 with virtually the same result whenever the football comes his way. He’s catching it, sometimes making difficult grabs – either sliding or extending on the sidelines with toes inbounds – look routine.
Dressler appears polished in his routes, even against the veteran cornerbacks he’s lined up against the past three days. But that should be expected considering he joins the Chiefs with six years of professional experience after an accomplished career in the Canadian Football League.
Still, it’s not just the media the two-time CFL All-Star and CFL Most Outstanding Rookie in 2008 has impressed at this early stage of the offseason, even in shorts and helmet.
“I like his quickness,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I like him in the slot. He’s got great quickness there. That’s where he played in Canada; he played in that area. You can see he’s got a real feel in there and good quickness that goes with it.”
Dressler, who turns 29 on June 14, used his knowledge of working inside to post 442 receptions for 6,531 yards, including four straight 1,000-yard seasons, and 43 touchdowns with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Chiefs liked what they saw and eventually signed Dressler to a three-year free-agent contract on Feb. 4.
Despite an impressive resume’, he finds himself adjusting again from his playing days at the University of North Dakota to the CFL to the NFL.
“I’ve never been in this situation before with an NFL team,” Dressler said. “Going up to the CFL I was in a similar position just learning a different game, so I’m trying to take everything I learned from that experience and use that in this experience just learning as much as I can and apply it.”
Given his professional playing experience, the transition could come easier since he possesses an understanding of underneath route concepts.
Nevertheless, Dressler is quick to identify the biggest difference to what he saw in Canada.
“I think the speed of the game is a little faster down here,” Dressler said. “As a receiver, I felt myself kind of rushing routes at times, feeling the pressure to get in and out a little faster.
“I’m trying to get comfortable with that, and then the spacing on the field is a little different coming from a bigger field in Canada. So getting used to that, getting the splits down and the spacing within all the route combinations.”
With no running head start to the line of scrimmage before the snap, Dressler must also adapt to the size of NFL cornerbacks whenever the Chiefs split him wide. Dressler met his match during Thursday’s OTA. Cornerback Ron Parker, who stands 6-0, 206 pounds and possesses 4.36 speed, pressed Dressler at the line of scrimmage and never let him get by.
Another area Dressler found requiring acclimation is the notorious Midwest summer, as the accompanying humidity can prove brutal to the uninitiated.
The native of Bismarck, N.D., laughed when asked how he’s coping since he never dealt with sweat-drenching muggy conditions growing up in North Dakota or Canada.
“It’s funny because I was talking to my dad a few weeks ago and he asked me how the humidity was,” he said, “and I basically brushed it off. I didn’t think anything of it.
“And then we got out here for the rookie camp and we felt it, definitely felt it a little bit. But I’ve been working hard trying to be in the best shape as possible to be prepared for the minicamp and the OTAs, so I think I’ve handled it well.”
In the meantime, there’s a logjam at the wide receiver position in Kansas City.
The Chiefs currently have 11 wideouts on the roster, including two undrafted free agents with accomplished collegiate careers in Albert Wilson, who has also turned heads, and Darryl Surgent.
Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery return as last season’s starters, with A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway, Kyle Williams, Jerrell Jackson, Fred Williams and Frankie Hammond rounding out the group.
While there’s plenty of competition leading to training camp, the good news for Dressler is he’s not alone as he looks to make his mark at slot receiver or special teams as a returner.
“All the guys have given little tips here and there,” Dressler said of his new teammates. “It’s all helpful. Right now I’m just trying to take in as much information I can and learn as much as I can.”
Notes: Dressler chose to wear No. 13 as a tribute to the Saskatchewan Roughriders fans … “The fans there were really amazing,” he said. “They really welcomed me there really as one of their own. I just kind of fell in love with the place. It will always be a special place in my heart.”