Despite suffering a torn ACL in his left knee a little more than six months ago, fifth-round quarterback Aaron Murray was not limited in drills Saturday.
Murray, who is listed at 6 feet 1 and 207 pounds, wore a large brace on the knee and proceeded to take a number of snaps and make a number of throws during team and individual drills.
“We’ve been keeping a close eye on it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He’s done everything up to this point — he went through today’s work and he’ll keep getting stronger as he goes.”
Reid said Saturday’s practice benefitted Murray because it’s the first time he’s faced a pass rush, limited as it might have been (they practiced in helmets and shorts).
“He had to move around a little bit, you got to see his movement ability,” Reid said. “You’ve got to do that in the National Football League, you’ve got to do it out here so he did that and he did some nice things.”
As a senior at Georgia, Murray completed 225 of 347 passes for 3,075 yards with 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions before his season ended Nov. 22 against Kentucky. Murray said he had surgery on the knee three days later and vowed to be healthy enough to participate in his pro day in April, which he was.
“The knee is great, it feels awesome,” Murray said. “The best thing is there’s no second thought ... there’s no ‘be careful of the knee, don’t step into the throw.’ It’s all just go out there and play and have fun and execute the play.”
Murray looked fairly nimble on Saturday; he scrambled to avoid the rush on one occasion and generally seemed unencumbered. He did toss four interceptions — including two on deflections — but he was generally the most accurate of the three quarterbacks in attendance, as Toledo’s Terrance Owens and Saginaw Valley State’s Jonathon Jennings also struggled to find the strike zone.
Reid, of course, was not concerned by interceptions that came in the first non-padded practice of the year.
“There’s a little bit of a rush in his face, he’s moving and he’s got new receivers and a bunch of different things that go into that,” Reid said. “That’s a tough thing ”
Regardless, Murray was noticeably enthusiastic about his first day of practice.
“It’s a nice mental hurdle to get over, knowing I just have to trust it,” Murray said of his knee. “I can’t worry about what’s going on in front of me.”
Thomas chooses jersey number
After two weeks of limbo, former Oregon star De’Anthony Thomas — the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick — has finally been issued a jersey number.
“When I arrived (Friday), No. 1 was in my locker,” Thomas said. “I’ll just establish the number and keep working and keep contributing to this team.”
However, it seems unlikely that will be Thomas’ number come the regular season. Thomas, who is 5 feet 9 and 174 pounds, is listed as a running back on the team’s official roster, and the NFL requires running backs to wear numbers between 20 and 49 by the regular season. The league makes exceptions before that, due to the high number of players on each roster, but as the season draws nearer, more players get cut and thus, more numbers become available.
Of greater concern to the Chiefs is that Thomas won’t be able to remain in Kansas City after the three-day minicamp. The NFL prohibits players from working out with their new teams until they’ve completed their college’s academic calendar is complete, and the final exams for Oregon — which runs on the quarter system — won’t be complete until June 13.
That means Thomas miss most of the next few weeks while his new teammates begin OTAs.
“He has to go back (to Oregon),” Reid said, “so the next time he’ll be with us is that last mandatory minicamp (on June 17-19).”
Reid, however, said Thomas, who has also missed the last two weeks of organized workouts, and running-backs coach Eric Bieniemy have been working closely every day.
“He was able to do everything today, and he’s actually holding on to what we’ve given him pretty good,” Reid said.
Thomas spent most of his time at running back on Saturday, but he did occasionally line up as a slot receiver, a position that perhaps best fits a player of size and also happens to be a need, as last year’s starter, Dexter McCluster signed with Tennessee this offseason after a career season.
“You saw, we had him all over the place,” Reid said, “so that’s what we’re gonna do with him. (Spread Game Analyst) coach Brad (Childress) and Eric are kinda working with him — Brad’s doing a little bit with spread stuff and Eric does stuff with him from the backfield and a couple of split out things.”
A few players who participated on the practice squad last season also participated in the camp Saturday, including cornerback Vernon Kearney, safety Malcolm Bronson, tight end Demetrius Harris, tackle Chandler Burden, receiver Fred Williams and receiver Frankie Hammond.