Nothing comes easy for aspiring young tight ends in the NFL, least of all playing time and targets.
So when Sean McGrath found himself getting plenty of both for the Chiefs on Sunday, well, there was no use trying to hide his enthusiasm.
“I was getting juiced, man,” said McGrath, who had a career-high five catches on five targets for 64 yards.
McGrath actually punctuated one catch, a 23-yarder in the second half, with an emphatic first-down gesture. And don't even get the former Henderson State player started on his first career NFL score, a 5-yard touchdown over the middle that gave the Chiefs a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
“I found myself sitting open right in the back of the end zone there and as Coach (Andy) Reid would say, (Alex) dotted me with the ball,” McGrath said. “I saw it come in and all I was thinking was just catch it, catch it, catch it.
“(I've come) a long way; it's been a long time (coming), boy, a long time.”
McGrath, a 6-foot-5, 247-pounder who spent most of last season on Seattle's practice squad, was picked up by the Chiefs right before the season. He made his second career start on Sunday and has caught 11 of the 13 passes thrown his way in an effort to establish himself as a reliable target while starter Anthony Fasano and third-round rookie Travis Kelce sit due to injuries.
“I think he's done an excellent job of really just going out and playing,” said quarterback Alex Smith, who essentially said that's not necessarily a given with young guys. “He didn't blink, he just stepped in and went and we didn't even notice, didn't skip a beat. So I've been really impressed with him.”
Smith was also complimentary of tight end Kevin Brock, 27, who was cut by the Chiefs right before the start of the season, only to be re-signed before the Philadelphia game when the Chiefs were thin due to injuries to Fasano and Kelce.
Brock caught two passes for 27 yards on Sunday, equaling his career totals in both categories entering the game. Brock caught two passes for 27 yards as a member of the Buffalo Bills in 2011, which also happened to be the last time he caught a pass before Sunday.
“To have him coming in, playing a lot of football, he's done a great job,” Smith said.
But the star of the game at the position was clearly McGrath, whom Reid praised afterward.
“Listen, McGrath made a game-winner last week and he came up big this week,” Reid said. “He got hit in the ankle, he got hit in the knee, but he kept battling through it.”
McGrath left the game briefly after injuring his left leg in the first half, but later re-entered the game and later downplayed the injury.
“I just got twisted up, trying to get that first down,” said McGrath, who was wearing a sleeve on his left leg after the game. “I just twisted it ... I probably overreacted a little bit.”
Now, McGrath just hopes he can continue to stay healthy and contribute so his comfort level with Smith continues to grow.
“We've been playing together four weeks ― it's not that much time to get acquainted with each other,” McGrath said. “But like I said before, Alex throws to the open guy. I try to get open as much as I can. That's just playing football.”