When the Chiefs didn’t sign a veteran, established player to replace tight end Anthony Fasano, who was released during the offseason, it put them in the position of possibly having to rely on some young players there this year.
And when last year’s No. 3 tight end, Demetrius Harris, underwent additional foot surgery in the spring — he still hasn’t practiced a week into camp — it made it a virtual inevitability.
However, fifth-round pick James O’Shaughnessy out of Illinois State has embraced the challenge, and is doing all he can in camp to prove he can help out early on as a backup to unquestioned starter Travis Kelce.
“You know what, he’s doing good,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He’s working hard on his fundamentals. He’s not the biggest guy, so he has to be technique-sound. So for the four (padded) practices, he’s worked on that. Every day he improves, which is kind of a neat thing to see, he’s from a smaller school. For him to handle what we’re asking him to handle, he’s doing a heck of a job.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Reid was asked if O’Shaughnessy, who is listed at 6 feet 4 and 245 pounds, has improved as a blocker or receiver.
“I’d tell you it’s both, but we know he’s a pretty good catcher,” Reid said. “Blocking is where he needed the most improvement and he’s been doing well with that.”
O’Shaughnessy credited Kelce and the coaching staff Saturday for helping accelerate his development.
“The whole tight end group helped me out, especially Kelce and coach (Tom) Melvin, our OC (offensive coordinator Doug Pederson) and coach Reid,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s kind of been a collective help from everybody. I’ve been very fortunate with that aspect that they all have been willing to help me through my growing pains and help me work through whatever I need to get done.”
O’Shaughnessy still has a ways to go to reach his potential, but it sounds like he’s off to a good start.
“This is the National Football League, it’s the best competition in the world,” Reid said. “He didn’t come in and he wasn’t in awe, that’s not what it was. He came in and he got busy, trying to learn everything. He’s a smart kid, he wanted to make sure he learned everything. He’s done a nice job.”