ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chiefs wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr., finds himself in a familiar situation.
Hammond ran with the first-team offense Tuesday with wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (neck) and Albert Wilson (illness) sidelined.
And it was a year ago Hammond temporarily filled in as the No. 1 receiver after filling in for Dwayne Bowe, who served a one-game suspension to start the season.
The experience of being the next man up made it easier for Hammond heading into the 2015 training camp knowing his number could be called at any moment, a scenario he embraces.
“I’m just trying to be available,” Hammond said. “I’m just trying to create a confidence within the coaching staff that they know with Maclin being down for whatever it may be, I can fill in that role and get the job done.”
Hammond, who spent the 2013 season on the Chiefs practice squad, made the the 53-man roster in 2014, appearing in 16 games with three starts. He recorded four catches for 45 yards on 11 targets, adding 15 punt returns for 200 yards and two kickoff returns for 74 yards.
The overall production doesn’t demand attention, but Hammond may not have to worry too much about gaining trust from decision makers.
The coaching staff apparently already likes what they see.
“I think you’re beginning to see the gains and the strides from his hard work out here on the field,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “He’s put himself in a really good position to play quite a bit for us on offense. He’s a great special teams contributor for Coach (Dave) Toub. He’s done a nice job and I look forward to watching him in these games.”
Pederson said attributes standing out for Hammond are the wide receiver’s physical make-up and the added weight to Hammond’s 6-1, 184-pound frame.
The offensive coordinator further points Hammond has a firm grasp of what is expected of him in the passing game.
“He’s playing faster, he understands his role and understands what we’re trying to get done offensively with him,” Pederson said. “He’s making plays and you see him show up time and time again. That’s very encouraging.”
Meanwhile, Hammond said he feels good about putting on extra pounds and it hasn’t affected his 4.44 40-yard dash speed.
The weight gain also provides an equal playing level when facing physical cornerbacks.
“I just became a stronger receiver so mechanically I can get better at route running,” Hammond said. “These days it seems everybody is trying to get the 6-foot, 200-pound DB. If anything, I think the extra five pounds will help.”
Hammond said maintaining his speed with the weight gain offers an advantage when facing a bigger defender, and it will allow him to not get pushed around at the line of scrimmage.
“As far as the weight is concerned, just to be able to stand my ground,” he said. “The speed and quickness is still there. Whether they’re tall or short, it’s football. You have to beat the guy in front of you.”
The Chiefs offensive coordinator agreed.
“He just becomes stronger, a little more physical on the edge,” Pederson said, “and we ask our guys to block. He has to come in there from time to time and block a (outside linebacker) Tamba Hali or a Derrick Johnson, so the extra weight helps.”
The absences of Maclin and Wilson don’t appear as a long-term problem, and both should be ready for the start of the regular season, which is still a month away.
But if Maclin and Wilson aren’t available, the Chiefs are comfortable calling upon Hammond to fill in.
And that is more than fine with the wide receiver.
“I just come in here busting my tail, make catches and do what I got to do to just stay up to date,” Hammond said. “That way when things happen – Maclin’s there, Maclin’s not, whether it’s Albert or Jason (Avant) – I just want to be there and they can just throw me in and have that confidence in me.”
Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.