Tight end Anthony Fasano and safety Daniel Sorensen both went up for a pass during a red zone drill on Sunday, but only one of them would come away with it.
Fasano, a veteran who has two inches and 47 pounds on the rookie safety, not only ripped it away from Sorensen’s grasp in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, he also punctuated the catch by spiking the ball — an interesting outburst of emotion for a ninth-year pro during an early-August training camp practice.
“Fasano’s great,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said, when asked about the play after practice. “He’s an excitable guy. He loves to compete.”
Indeed. And while it might have seemed like a fairly insignificant play in the grand scheme of things — the regular season is still a month away— with his competitive spirit in mind, it’s hard to blame Fasano for being pumped after the play.
After all, the 30-year old is coming off a frustrating season in which he played only nine games due to a variety of injuries and logged only 23 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns for Kansas City.
“It’s just one of those years where you’re not really hurt, you’re injured,” said Fasano, a tough-guy sort who played in 108 of 112 possible regular-season games prior to last season. “It kind of snowballed on me.”
His numbers, while respectable, fell short of what he envisioned when he signed a four-year, $16 million contract to start in Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s tight end-friendly offense.
“He was disappointed last year — he knew the kind of offense this was,” Reid said. “You could see the frustration building up on him when he was injured, he wanted to be a part of it.”
Fasano says he dealt with an ankle injury last season, in addition to a concussion and a pair of knee issues.
“It was just a constant struggle (to feel) halfway decent,” Fasano said. “After week two, there wasn’t a game I was close to 100 percent.”
So once the season came to a close, Fasano focused on healing up. He rested in January and February, save for some time in the pool, and did some corrective exercises to speed up the healing process.
“I needed it,” Fasano said. “I just needed to relax.”
Fasano also managed to shed a little weight. He says he’s now playing between 250 and 255 pounds, whereas last year he played between 255 and 260 pounds.
“He came back in phenomenal shape,” Reid said.
That has helped him during training camp, as he’s proven to be light on his feet and nimble for his size. He’s also hauled in a variety of impressive catches, including a few he’s either caught one-handed or tipped to himself.
This should not be a surprise. Fasano has a reputation a strong, reliable blocker, but he also has very dependable hands — he went all of 2012 without a dropping a pass.
However, he has never been a burner, even dating back to his college days, which means that any injuries that effect his movement are just an added burden for a player who struggles to run away from defenders in the first place.
“He’s not going to wow you with the jukes and shake you out of your shoes, but he’s going to get just a little bit of separation to catch the ball,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “He’s a savvy veteran.”
One who is doing well, he added, which Reid and Pederson also confirmed. And if that’s not enough, Fasano’s touchdown — and ensuing celebration — on Sunday only reinforced the notion that he’s healthy, happy and hopeful for a better year.
“He’s out here,” Reid said, “and he’s enjoying every day of it.”