Chiefs

This quality makes Frank Clark the most important player on the Chiefs’ defense

Frank Clark has a secret talent.

Or, at least, one that can’t be tangibly measured, one that doesn’t show up on his stat line alongside the 13 sacks from a season ago.

Because for all his highlight-reel plays and impressive numbers, perhaps the most valuable aspect Clark offers is his energy.

It’s a trait that doesn’t just benefit him, but everyone around him — and that’s why it’s it’s the most valuable intangible Clark brought with him when he arrived in Kansas City from Seattle via trade in April.

“That’s one of those hidden attributes, your energy, the vibe you come in with every day, how you come to work,” Clark said Monday. “Because at the end of the day, you want to make a good impression. You don’t want to come in with your head down, looking sluggish and looking tired because that might affect that young guy who don’t know, who don’t understand this stuff.”

Since Monday’s first padded practice, Clark has been something of a menace on the football fields of St. Joseph.

Frequently going head-to-head with left tackle Eric Fisher, the free-agency cornerstone of the Chiefs’ overhauled defense set the tone for those around him with spin moves and shouting and would-be sacks.

There’s a limit, of course, to what Clark can do in camp. Risking injury to the NFL MVP by unleashing the full wrath of Clark’s power is never going to happen in this setting. But when the pads came on Monday, Clark started showing the strongest flashes of his potential since arriving in Kansas City a couple months ago.

He spent the first practice roughing up Fisher, shoving him out of the way as he pushed through the line to pressure Patrick Mahomes. Other times he unleashed his signature spin move, ending with Fisher on the ground as he blew by him.

He picked right up where he left off in Tuesday’s practice, blasting by Cam Erving on his way to the quarterback. All Erving could do to prevent the sack was grasp at the back of Clark’s jersey to draw a holding call.

As he competed, Clark was loud, hollering and talking smack to the linemen.

A fun swagger that can only come when a player is truly comfortable on the field.

“He likes to have fun,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “The guys that are secure, confident in their abilities, they go out there and have fun.”

And that’s exactly what Clark’s done through the first four days of training camp — and his teammates have noticed.

“Yesterday, Frank was talking his stuff,” linebacker Reggie Ragland said Tuesday. “I appreciate Frank for that. That makes everybody go, and we need that. I’m excited for the future of this team.”

Clark knows that his energy rubs off on his teammates. His on-field measurables made him a coveted player for any team, but his ability to energize his teammates was one of the intangibles that truly sold the Chiefs on trading for him.

“He loves to play and that’s the part that you love about him,” Andy Reid said. “You loved it – even when he was the opponent – the way he went about his business. Now that he’s on your team, you love it even more. That makes you better. It is infectious, all the way across. Both sides of the ball. It’s a great thing.”

And when practice finishes, Clark redirects his energy, turning it from adversarial to congenial.

After the team broke from Reid’s huddle following hours of contentious competition Tuesday, Clark walked over to each of the offensive linemen, exchanging quick fist bumps.

Spagnuolo saw the moment and embraced Clark afterward.

“That’s a team player right there,” Spagnuolo said. “That will make us better as a football team.”

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Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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