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Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano returns to field with ‘vigor’

Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano didn’t play at all in 2014 because of a gastrointestinal virus and a concussion, but he’s back this year.
Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano didn’t play at all in 2014 because of a gastrointestinal virus and a concussion, but he’s back this year. The Kansas City Star

After not playing a single snap last season, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano said Wednesday he is ready to make an impact this year.

Catapano worked with the first-team defense during Tuesday’s team workout.

“I’m ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I’m ready to step up in big situations and starting situations,” Catapano said. “I just want to keep getting better every day … and play to the best of my abilities.”

Catapano missed all of last season, including a bulk of training camp. A gastrointestinal virus discovered in camp kept him sidelined until late September, when he was placed on injured reserve because of a concussion.

Not playing a full season put football in a different perspective for Catapano, who said last season’s sidelining has led to an enhanced approach.

“Every time I step on the field now it’s with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had,” Catapano said. “It feels great. I feel better than ever.”

Catapano, a third-year player out of Princeton, demonstrated that vigor when he battled hard with offensive lineman Donald Stephenson during team drills. Catapano said there’s a level of familiarity because he lined up against Stephenson while on the scout team during his rookie season.

“I’m used to those guys,” Catapano said. “There’s no better guys to go against. They’re athletic, they’re good at what they do and they make me better every day and I try to make them better every day.

In addition to getting back onto the field, Catapano has faced another challenge: a position change. Catapano played outside linebacker when he first arrived with the Chiefs, but he’s been lining up at defensive end during organized team activities this year.

“Just adjusting to where they have me in this scheme,” Catapano said of his offseason preparations. “It’s a process and I definitely feel like I’m making huge strides every day.”

To reach Chris Bumbaca, send email to cbumbaca@kcstar.com.

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