The No. 3 tight end in the Chiefs’ offense sees enough playing time that whoever fills the role has to bring some specific traits to the table.
Knowledge of the offense. Consistent hands. And most importantly, blocking.
The man who last filled that spot, Ross Travis, was released on Monday and signed by Indianapolis. Travis, a converted basketball player who played tight end at Penn State, was more adept at catching the ball than springing backs free.
His replacement, former practice squad member Orson Charles, is already talking about embracing the dirty work.
“It’s an attitude, a want-to, and I enjoy doing it,” Charles said of blocking. “That’s something we have to do.”
Charles, however, is not a massive man for the position. At 6 feet 3, 246 pounds, the 26-year old fits the physical profile of an “h” back or “move” tight end, something that motivates him to this day.
“One of my nicks was me not being tall enough, so I had to make sure I was on top of my technique, I had to make sure I catch every ball,” said Charles, a fourth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012.
Charles caught nine passes for 109 yards in 29 games over two seasons with the Bengals, and is considered to be a consistent receiver.
But there will be times in coach Andy Reid’s offense where he will be called on to do the job as an inline blocker and make some hay, and he’s also good with that, since people have always underestimated him some in this area because of his lack of prototypical size.
“It definitely draws a fire under me,” Charles said of his height. “But I watch some of the tight ends that’s my height killing it like Charles Clay, Ben Watson and Delanie Walker.”
Now he hopes to add to that legacy, now that he has an opportunity he’s been praying for since the Chiefs signed him as a free agent in March. Charles has also been practicing at fullback and going to running back meetings, and he’s optimistic that versatility will come in handy.
“They say the more you can do, the more valuable you can be,” Charles said.
If Charles –– who also spent time with the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions prior to joining the Chiefs –– indeed sticks as the No. 3 tight end, he can at least expect to see the field some since Travis logged 12.9 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps this year, despite catching only five passes for 43 yards.
“We do play all three of those guys at the same time and have before … so they all have to be ready,” quarterback Alex Smith said of the tight ends. “That is certainly personnel we feel good with run and pass, that has good balance for us … when we are throwing the ball and winning their matchups.
“You are a play away from being in there on all that stuff, so you have to prepare yourself in that third tight end role.”
Preparation shouldn’t be an issue for Charles, who also expects special teams to be a part of his duties and seems eager to help out however possible.
“I definitely feel ready ––the coaches did a great job preparing me,” Charles said. “We’re in a slump right now and I’m willing to sacrifice my body to help the cause.”