Chris Conley has been through the ringer the past couple of months.
The adversity he has faced following his torn Achilles last season has tested the Chiefs wide receiver's patience and love for football.
Various surgeries, working through therapy and getting in the right mindset became big factors for Conley. But it's looking like all of his hard work since the injury that occurred against the Houston Texans in October has paid off.
As he continues to track well ahead of the standard recovery time for such injuries, Conley is feeling great.
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"I think that injuries like this are kind of a long form," he said Wednesday, midway through the Chiefs' mandatory minicamp at their Arrowhead Stadium training complex. "They’re a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to be careful even when you feel OK.
"It’s just a thing about acclimation for your muscles. You have to build it up to a certain number and not just jump back into doing it.”
Eight months since the injury and 11 pounds lighter (he has gone from 225 pounds to 214), Conley said he “feels good and strong.”
Conley doesn’t see himself gaining back that weight, either. With a good body-fat percentage and the renewed ability to “feel fast,” he likes where he's at.
And looking back on it all, he's not shocked that he got hurt last fall.
“It comes with the territory,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is a sport that has a 100 percent injury rate if you are in it long enough. You will get injured in some sort of way. I knew something was coming, whether it was indirectly or directly … You just roll through the punches.”
About a week after he had the post-injury surgery, Conley knew he had to get moving. Sitting around and waiting to feel better wasn’t an option.
“You don’t just wait and rest until you’re healthy, you work at it,” he said. “Whether it’s physically or getting in that mental space that says, ‘Hey, I’m going to let my body recover and rest.’”
Now, he’s just focused on building chemistry with his offense — especially new starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Conley was close with former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who's now with Washington. But after Smith left Kansas City, everyone knew it was Mahomes time ... including Conley.
Conley said he is eager to do “anything that I can to help this offense succeed” with Mahomes under center.
“I haven’t worked with Pat much prior to this camp — it was mainly Alex,” Conley said. “It’s huge, not only to build chemistry with Pat but to also knock some rust off."
Mahomes got together with members of the Chiefs' offense at KC-area high school fields this offseason. The purpose was two-fold: bolster team chemistry and get a better handle on the plays. Conley was part of that process.
"It helped out a ton from last year learning all those things and then having veteran guys like ChrisConley and (Travis) Kelce and all of those guys that can help explain the routes even better to me," Mahomes said recently. "Then it helps me get a better understanding of what they’re thinking."
Conley is simply glad to be back on the field instead of the sidelines.
"I haven’t played football in eight months, and that’s a big deal," he said. "It’s good to get some kinks out now.”