Through an otherwise tranquil training camp, the Chiefs were nagged by just one issue, but it was an issue so large it had the potential to derail what they hope can be a special season.
Their best wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, wasn’t with them. Bowe, the Chiefs’ unsigned franchise player, was sitting out and gave no public indication when he would rejoin the team.
Like clouds giving way to blue sky after a storm, the situation suddenly resolved itself Friday, a day after the Chiefs broke training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. Bowe signed his one-year contract offer from the Chiefs, worth $9.5 million.
Bowe won’t play Saturday night when the Chiefs continue their preseason with a game against the Rams. He can’t practice in pads for three days after he joins the Chiefs for workouts next week, making it unlikely he would play in the Aug. 24 preseason game against Seattle at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs conclude the preseason on Aug. 30 against the Packers in Green Bay. They begin the regular season on Sept. 9 against Atlanta at Arrowhead.
Bowe has some ground to make up. Coordinator Brian Daboll installed a new offense and Bowe didn’t participate in any of the offseason practices or at the three weeks of training camp, so he hasn’t learned it.
Still, his arrival can only help the Chiefs as they battle with San Diego, Denver and perhaps Oakland for the AFC West championship.
“I picked them to win the division before Bowe signed,” said ESPN analyst Herm Edwards, the Chiefs coach when they drafted Bowe in the first round in 2007. “This just strengthens my opinion. Dwayne Bowe had been a 1,000-yard receiver his whole career, so he’s been pretty consistent. He’s not a fluke. He’s back and that’s only going to help them.
“They’ve got some weapons now. The key for them is to get back to running the football. That sets up everything for them. What they did in the preseason game (against Arizona last week), I think that’s how they want to play. They were very solid, went on some long drives. They ran the ball early, established that, and then the play-action pass opened up for them.”
The Chiefs said they would have no comment on Bowe signing until after Saturday’s game. Bowe was unavailable to comment.
The Chiefs have built a roster they believe will make them a strong contender for the AFC West championship and perhaps even a candidate to go deep into the playoffs. But they had little proven talent at wide receiver without Bowe.
Steve Breaston caught 61 passes last season, his first with the Chiefs. Job Baldwin and Dexter McCluster played well in the off-season and at camp but still haven’t shown they can deliver big plays during the regular season.
None has a record that can stack up to Bowe’s. He was their leading receiver in each of the past three seasons and had at least 70 catches in four of his five NFL years.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 after catching 72 passes and scoring 15 touchdowns.
The Chiefs were lacking all of that proven production at training camp. The deadline had passed in July for the sides to agree on terms of a long-term contract, so when camp started, Bowe had only two options: sit out or sign the one-year offer.
He flew to Kansas City late last week, sparking speculation he had signed. Bowe hadn’t then, but it turned out his signing wasn’t far off.