On the same day one of the Chiefs’ most intriguing receivers finally returned to practice, their best — and highest-paid — one sat out because of an injury.
Third-round pick Chris Conley, who impressed teammates and coaches with his combination of size (6 feet 3, 205 pounds) and speed (4.35-second 40-yard dash) in organized team activities, returned to action Monday after nursing a knee sprain for the past 11 days.
But while Conley, who started with the second team, could be seen sprinting under deep passes and getting his timing back with the quarterbacks during practice, star wide receivert Jeremy Maclin could be seen inside the trainer’s tent, pedaling away on a bike.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Maclin was nursing a neck strain.
“He had it X-rayed,” Reid said. “Everything’s OK — we’ve just got to get the spasm out of it.”
Reid said Maclin suffered the injury during a drill in Sunday’s practice, which was easily the most chippy of camp. Maclin and cornerback Marcus Cooper came to blows after Cooper grabbed Maclin by his collar on a deep post and the two fell to the ground.
When asked if Maclin — who continued to practice after the scuffle on Sunday — suffered the injury during the fight, Reid said he was not sure.
“(It happened) just on a drill yesterday — he got tackled,” Reid said. “I’m not exactly sure which play it happened on, but he woke up this morning with a stiff neck. Had to make sure it wasn’t structural. It wasn’t.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Reid seemed happy with what he saw from Conley. The Chiefs had a light practice, after going the previous three days in pads, and the defense wasn’t very aggressive. But Conley seemed to run and catch the ball well.
“He did a good job — this was just a test to see where he’s at,” Reid said. “We’ll see where the pain is, if there is any, when he’s done. We tried to monitor him today. And again, we’ll see. If it flares up again, we’ll sit him down. If not, he’ll be able to go. We’ll just be smart with it.”
To that end, Reid said it was still unclear if Conley will be available for the Chiefs’ first exhibition game against Arizona on Saturday.
“We’ll just have to see,” Reid said. “We’re literally taking it day by day.”
In the meantime, however, Conley should have a chance to make an impression in the coming days, provided his knee remains fine. The Chiefs practice again Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I’d like to see him play,” Reid said. “I’ve seen him in shorts. You want to see him live. Hopefully he’s just himself and makes his own mark.”
Cornerback Phillip Gaines said Conley certainly has the talent to do so.
“He’s a freakish athlete,” Gaines said, “and I know once coaches get their hands on him and him fine-tuned, he’s going to be a problem because he has long speed that a lot of people can’t match, he has really strong hands, he’s physical, and he can high point and get the ball.”