The three practices the Chiefs hold before veterans arrive for training camp aren’t terribly taxing. They are non contact, and more about helping young players get accustomed to concepts and fundamentals. But they can present some challenges.
Only rookies and quarterbacks are required to attend, which means that in some cases, when a player gets hurt, he might not have a backup at his position. Such was the case when the only running back in attendance this week, Keshawn Hill, was forced to leave Thursday’s practice because of a hamstring injury.
Without a clear-cut option to replace Hill, Chiefs coach Andy Reid turned to backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
Daniel, it turns out, was all too willing to fill in.
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“Man, Coach Reid was just like ‘Hey, get on in there, let’s go,’” Daniel said, before cracking into a huge grin. “He knows how athletic I am, and knows I won’t mess up. I had no mental errors today. I was proud of myself.”
Daniel, who is listed at 6 feet and 225 pounds, was joking — he’s more of a pocket quarterback, as he’s rushed only 26 times for 97 yards in 53 NFL games.
But he did rush for 2,954 yards and 39 touchdowns his last two years as a dual-threat quarterback in high school, and played wideout as a sophomore.
“Oh yeah man, (I was) taking it back to my high school days (today) man, as a skill position player, playing a little receiver,” Daniel said.
On his first play at running back during Thursday’s team session, Daniel effortlessly hauled in a swing pass from quarterback Alex Smith in the flat and accelerate upfield.
“Hey man, I was his read, you know?” Daniel said with laugh. “He saw ‘White Lightning’ in the flat right here, he threw it to me, I got like 10 yards.
“What I was most impressed with how fast I got upfield, didn’t make any cuts and just went,” Daniel said. “E.B. would have been proud of me.”
E.B., of course, is running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, whose loud, booming voice — and reputation for getting the most out of his players — precedes him.
But while Daniel — who continued his duties as second team quarterback on Thursday — was having fun after practice, it was clear he took his temporary job as a running back seriously.
“I wasn’t out there joking around when I was doing it,” he said.
That much was evident on a handful of downfield passing plays, where Daniel actually went through the motions of stepping up in pass protection (he avoided contact with defenders, however).
“You can’t get too far in there where you were hurting some of your hands,” Daniel said. “It’s actually a really good exercise for quarterbacks to play a different position, especially on like blitz pickup, to know exactly how you’re picked up, what you’re doing. The technique was a little sloppy, but I had fun out there doing it.”
Daniel wasn’t the only quarterback to chip in at running back on Thursday. When he was quarterbacking the second-team unit, second-year pro Aaron Murray earned a few snaps in the backfield.
“Yeah, he was so-so — I don’t think he played as good as me out there today at running back,” Daniel said, joking. “But no, he stepped in there (and did) well. He knows exactly what to do, as well. He’s a very smart guy.”