Jun 17, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray (7) throws passes during minicamp. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray continues to show remarkable recovery with his surgically repaired left knee.
Murray, who underwent ACL surgery in late November 2013, participated without limitations during rookie minicamp, organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.
The Chiefs’ fifth-round pick expects the same for training camp.
“The knee is great,” Murray said Sunday. “It really has been feeling fantastic.
“Minicamp and OTAs went awesome. I really had no problems with the knee at all, and had no limitations. So I look forward to continue to get it stronger, to build confidence and get better every day.”
Trusting his surgically repaired knee is a mental block Murray has apparently overcome.
Murray said he hasn’t thought about his knee “in the past two or three months,” which coincided with the offseason workouts.
While he wore a knee brace, the proof of his confidence came in the form of his willingness to scramble whenever the pocket collapsed.
“All through minicamp and OTAs,” Murray said, “there was no thinking about the knee or worrying about someone that was going to roll into me or when I get into the open field am I going to make a move on it. It is just go out there and play, and it feels natural right now.”
The ability to practice without limitations will suit Murray well in the coming month.
The former Georgia Bulldog is set to compete for a roster spot against fellow backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray.
In the meantime, Murray enjoys learning from them and starter Alex Smith.
“All three of them work extremely hard,” Murray said. “So just watching how they focus in every single day. Every day is an opportunity to get better and they take full advantage when it comes to getting to the facility early, the way they watch film, the way they communicate with the coaches, to the way the go out there and compete every day in practice. It’s been impressive to see.”
Mentally prepared for battle
Rookie guard Zach Fulton, the first of two sixth-round picks, enters training camp with an opportunity to compete for the starting right guard position.
The 6-5, 316-pound Fulton has the physical tools, but he knows he’ll need more as he approaches the competition against Rishaw Johnson and Jeff Linkenbach, among others.
“Mindset is just being consistent,” Fulton said. “That’s my whole key. Whoever’s the most consistent probably will end up being that guy.”
Fulton got a taste of the first-team offense when he ran with the unit during 11-on-11 drills in minicamp.
“It will help me a lot,” he said, “but wherever I’m at – the ones, twos or threes – it doesn’t really matter. I’m just going to prove myself.”
Still, Fulton doesn’t take for granted the team’s faith in him.
“It showed that they have a little bit of confidence in me to put me in the ones and have me work with them a little bit,” he said. “But it’s just OTAs, so it doesn’t mean anything. We’ll see what happens these next few weeks.”
Rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas may have tipped off what the Chiefs are thinking when it comes to his eventual position.
Thomas has the versatility to play in the backfield or as a slot receiver, a position vacated by Dexter McCluster. He also projects as a returner.
Thomas missed the 10 days of OTAs due to Oregon’s academic quarter system and played catch-up during minicamp. And throughout the break leading to training camp, Thomas mostly stayed in touch with a specific position coach to learn the playbook.
“Coach Bieniemy,” Thomas said.
That would be running backs coach Eric Bieniemy.
Kansas City enters training camp with six running backs and three fullbacks. Of the former position, Jamaal Charles is entrenched as the starter with Knile Davis as his backup.
The battle for the third running back position occurs between Thomas, Cyrus Gray, Joe McKnight (knee) and Charcandrick West.
The Chiefs could still move Thomas to wide receiver, but for now he’s working closer with Bieniemy instead of assistant head coach/wide receivers coach David Culley.
NOTES: Coach Andy Reid isn’t a fan of practicing against other teams … “I’ve never been that big on it,” Reid said. “I know a lot of teams do it; a lot of successful teams do it. I just don’t want to give anyone anything that I don’t have to give. There’s already enough of this right here. I really don’t go there. That’s just not the way I’ve done it before” … Rookie outside linebacker Dee Ford said staying in shape was among the things he did during the break, but that came with the territory … “We’re professional athletes,” Ford said. “No one should have to tell you to stay in shape and be ready to report to play. Those are kind of the no-brainers” … Rookie offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who played mostly guard during OTAs and minicamp, looks forward to going against the defense in pads … “We have probably one of the best defensive lines in the league,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “So for sure, I’m super excited to go against those guys.”