When the Chiefs selected offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of last year’s draft, there was no doubt it was done so with the future in mind.
Duvernay-Tardif, who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 321 pounds, was smart, strong and agile, but he was raw. He spent his college career at McGill University in Montreal, and college football in Canada is not nearly as competitive as in the United States.
So the Chiefs knew it would take him some time to get accustomed to facing bigger, stronger athletes, all the while improving his technique and knowledge of the playbook.
“I think just my fundamentals (improved), learning (what to do) against this type of front, how to step up, how to make the proper adjustment, how to do the proper footwork,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I think after watching a lot of film, I improved a lot on that side.”
Although he did not appear in any games as rookie, the Chiefs still thought enough of Duvernay-Tardif to keep him on the 53-man active roster. They could have tried to put him on the practice squad, which would have freed up a spot for someone who could help them on gameday, but that would have allowed other teams to scoop him up, and the Chiefs didn’t risk it.
Now, they’re hoping they’re one year closer to being rewarded for their patience.
“I think he’s progressed quite a bit from his rookie year,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “A lot of his (part) is the understanding of the game. And playing at this level, he’s very strong and athletic and he’s smart. It’s just a matter with him, like I mentioned last year, is reps. Every rep he gets better with, so he’s a good football player.”
Reps were an issue throughout organized team activities. Though he spent most of last season at left guard, he even earned some first-string reps at right guard throughout OTAs.
“I try to stay relaxed and to just focus on the little detail to play the same way when I’m with the twos or threes,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “It’s still the same position, the same job. It just that it needs to be perfect every time, so I’m just working on detail and trying to be the best at my position.”
Duvernay-Tardif also earned some snaps with the starters in practice toward the end of last season, even though he never got a chance to play.
“The last two weeks (of the 2014 regular season), I had a couple of reps with the first team and it was a first for me because I never had a chance with the first team,” Duvernay-Tardif said, “Last year, Zach (Fulton) was a bit banged up so the first time, a Wednesday, I had to go in as a right guard and I was pretty excited about that.”
Duvernay-Tardifspent his offseason building on that momentum. However, he also devoted some free time toward his other passion — medicine. McGill is a medical school, and he wants to be a doctor one day.
“I was back in Montreal during the offseason — I did four months of medical school back there, and I have four months left before getting my M.D.,” Duvernay-Tardif said.
Duvernay-Tardif insists his side passion isn’t getting in the way of his primary passion as he continues his fight to one day crack the Chiefs’ starting lineup and ultimately reward the Chiefs for the faith they’ve shown in his long-term potential.
“When you have two passions, you don’t count the hours and you just work as hard as you need to,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I love being in med school, I love being here and playing, and the good thing now is I when I am here, I can focus 100 percent on football and I don’t care about med school.
“When I was back in college, I had to do both at the same time, so I think it’s a good thing now that I am able to focus on football and I really enjoy it.”