Don’t get him wrong. Chris Conley was happy to record his first NFL reception, and a nice one at that, over the middle for 16 yards on Monday against the Packers.
The Chiefs were making their late run, trailing by 16, and the drive would result in a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, sealing Green Bay’s 38-28 victory.
“It was a good moment, I wouldn’t say momentous moment,” Conley said. “You play the game to win, and we didn’t it done.”
Conley didn’t keep the ball, but he talked to his family afterwards, “They were proud of the moment, as was I,” he said. “But there’s no time to dwell, even on the good things.”
There likely will be many more as the Chiefs visit Cincinnati on Sunday. Conley’s action time soared against the Packers. He played a total of 52 snaps and first the first time this season more were on offense, 35, than on special teams. He had played a total of six offensive snaps the previous two games.
Only Jeremy Maclin had more snaps at wide receiver Monday.
Conley’s increased time came at Albert Wilson’s expense. Wilson was a limited practice participant for the second straight day on Thursday because of a shoulder injury.
Monday, quarterback Alex Smith zeroed in on wide receivers in the second half and the offense came to life. Smith had only two completions at halftime, one to tight end Travis Kelce the other to running back Jamaal Charles.
It was a miserable offensive showing. Wide receivers were targeted only three times in the first half.
In the desperation mode of the second half, Maclin caught eight passes for 141 yards, including a 61-yarder. The Chiefs were using all of their weapons, and they want Conley, the third-round draft selection from Georgia, to be one of them.
“The more opportunities he gets a chance to play, a snap here, a snap there may be a series or two … he’s such a smart kid, he’s like a sponge,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “He’s just absorbing all the information we’re giving him and he’s done a really good job when he’s in there.”
Adjusting to NFL speed has been the biggest challenge for the Chiefs’ biggest wide receiver. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Conley said defenses that he saw in the Southeastern Conference were fast, but…
“The pace and speed of the game is different here,” Conley said. “Players make decisions so much quicker.”
Wide receivers get to their spots and defensive backs break to the ball quicker.
“Not only that, but the time that the play comes in to the time that ball is snapped seems quicker,” he said. “It’s something you have to get a feel for and that comes with getting reps.”
Conley got a late start in the process, playing catchup in the preseason after missing training camp time and the first two preseason games recovering from a knee injury. In the final game, he caught his first professional touchdown pass, a 16-yarder from Chase Daniel against the Rams.
That ball he kept as a memento and sent it home saying he hoped there would be more soon.
Monday, Conley took the next step with his first NFL reception. It reminded him of how much more there is to accomplish.
“We still have plenty of stuff to work on as a team and individuals,” Conley said. “At this point, my job is to keep learning and do what they ask me to do.”