Red Zone

Camp battles build Chiefs offensive tackle Jarrod Pughsley

Jarrod Pughsley on Sunday at Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph.
Jarrod Pughsley on Sunday at Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph. kmyers@kcstar.com

One day offensive tackle Jarrod Pughsley got trucked by bull-rushing end Mike Catapano. The next, Pughsley returned the favor during team drills, getting the better of the matchup on a reach block.

Such are the battles of Chiefs training camp, where every snap is a building block for Pughsley.

“Cat’s really good,” Pughsley said. “I’m starting to realize how to set (against) him. It’s my first time going against any of these guys. We’ve been having pretty good battles.”

This is Pughsley’s second professional season, but his first camp. Pughsley was injured during OTAs with the Dallas Cowboys last year. The Chiefs signed him to the practice squad last October, and he’s battling for time on an offensive line that seems to have its starters set.

Starting at left tackle and working down the line, Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Eric Kush, Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson have taken the most first-team snaps.

Pughsley has worked mostly on the second team at both right and left tackle, looking to break through in an unexpected way, just as he did in college.

A football and basketball standout in high school in Lima, Ohio, Pughsley passed up offers from Division II schools and walked on at Akron of the Mid-American Conference, believing he had the ability to play Division I. He redshirted as a freshman and added 50 pounds.

A new staff arrived and told Pughsley and others to drop weight. Those who didn’t were gone. Pughsley lost 45 pounds. He became a starter as a junior, and after three straight 1-11 seasons, the Zips improved to 5-7 in Pughsley’s senior season.

It wasn’t until his third year that Pughsley was awarded a scholarship. He likens that situation to what his current experience.

“Being a free agent is like being a walk-on,” Pughsley said. “You’re always grinding, trying to prove yourself every day. The whole thing is come out every day and be better than the day before.”

If you get run over one day, return the favor the next.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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