The Chiefs saw the very best and the very worst in second-year quarterback Tyler Bray in Thursday night’s preseason loss at Green Bay.
The best: A rainbow pass down the sidelines that wide receiver A.J. Jenkins hauled in for a 45-yard gain.
The worst: Telegraphing a pass intended for Jenkins and seeing it intercepted by Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush.
The question is whether Bray’s performance in training camp and in three preseason games will enable him to retain his job as third-team quarterback when the Chiefs reduce their roster to the mandated 53 players by 3 p.m. Saturday.
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The Chiefs are carrying four quarterbacks — starter Alex Smith, backup Chase Daniel, Bray and Aaron Murray, a fifth-round draft pick — and some teams consider carrying three quarterbacks on a roster a luxury, much less four, something coach Andy Reid said he’s never done.
Complicating matters — or perhaps simplifying things — Reid revealed Friday that Bray suffered ankle and knee injuries during Thursday’s game. Reid said Bray might not have been able to continue playing after the injuries, though Murray was scheduled to replace him anyway in the third quarter.
“His ankle was the thing that might have hindered him,” Reid said of Bray. “And his knee got swollen up a little bit after the game.”
So it’s possible the Chiefs could move Bray, an undrafted rookie in 2013, to injured reserve when the rosters are pared on Saturday. That would end his season but give Bray, 22, more time to develop behind Smith, whose contract expires after this season, and Daniel, whose contract expires after 2015.
“These are good players,” Reid said of his quarterbacks. “I don’t think we saw the best of them (Thursday night). We probably didn’t play the best we could at that position. But all four of them have talent.”
Bray replaced Daniel in the second quarter and played into the third period of the 34-14 loss. The Chiefs did not include Bray on their list of injured players after the game, and he appeared fine afterward when standing in front of his locker and talking with reporters.
Bray, who completed eight of 15 passes for 116 yards, was sacked for a 10-yard loss midway through the third quarter. He took two more snaps after the sack and zipped a 15-yard pass to Mark Harrison on third-and-22 before giving way to Murray.
Bray, who did not step on the field as a rookie last year, completed 19 of 32 passes for 238 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 77.3 passer rating in three preseason games this year. Murray completed 10 of 20 passes for 130 yards, with one touchdown and one interception for a 64.6 rating in his brief preseason appearances.
“He obviously has a big arm,” Reid said of Bray, who is 6 feet 6, 215 pounds. “If you took one player and said who’s improved and changed himself physically and mentally from last year the most, you’d have to put Tyler in that mix. From where he was to where he is now, there’s a big difference.”
Bray realized he made a mistake when he locked onto Jenkins and threw the interception. But he appreciated Reid’s vote of confidence in allowing him to air the ball out to Jenkins on the next possession. That set up Bray’s 2-yard touchdown to tight end Richard Gordon in tight coverage along the goal line.
“When the coach comes back and gave us a shot to throw it down the field, it’s always a great confidence boost,” Bray said. “A.J. made a great play.”
Bray won the confidence of his teammates with his resiliency.
“I think he’s a pretty good quarterback who is learning and is on the verge of being really good,” said rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson, who has teamed with Bray for most of training camp and preseason. “He’s comfortable back there, and that’s where it starts for a quarterback. Once you’re comfortable and you take control of the offense, which he did (Thursday night), he’ll be a good quarterback.
“When you’re playing against great guys, things are not always going to go your way, but bouncing back is part of the game.”
Bray, who went undrafted after an inconsistent career at Tennessee, credits his year’s apprenticeship as the third-team quarterback last year for his improvement this season.
“It’s night and day,” he said. “I’ve learned so much in the offseason and preseason from where I was last year. It’s easy when you know what’s going on and you’re not out there guessing.
“In this game, I was staying poised in the pocket. Last game, I don’t want to say I was antsy or had quick feet, but I was not as comfortable as I felt (Thursday).”
Though all four quarterbacks struggled behind a jumbled offensive line and without playmakers like Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe for the last three games, Bray said the team will be ready for the Sept. 7 season opener against Tennessee.
“We’re ready,” he said. “You’re not going to show everything in the preseason. We still have a few tricks up our sleeve.”
Chiefs get a break
The Chiefs were given two days off and will report to their facility on Sunday for meetings.
Reid said wide receiver Jenkins was “feeling pretty good” after sustaining a concussion on Thursday night.
“Both he and (wide receiver) Kyle Williams got clobbered on a couple of plays,” Reid said. “Kyle said his shoulder was bothering him, and then A.J. had the concussion. I talked to him a little bit on the plane, and he felt pretty good. That was a positive.”