Conley working mental side in rookie camp

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K.C. Chiefs photo

Receivers coach David Culley speaks with his receivers during practice at the Chiefs rookie mini-camp

From the Truman Sports Complex

Visually, Chiefs third-round draft choice Chris Conley is an impressive young man. The wide receiver out of the University of Georgia looks like an NFL pass catcher, at least the current incarnation of the position. He stands 6-3, weighs 205 pounds and much of that weight is chiseled into muscle.

Conley can run fast, jump high and battle for every ball thrown in his area. He’s shown that several times during the Chiefs weekend rookie mini-camp where he’s been the best of what appeared to be a nice group of young wide receivers. Conley, along with seventh-round draft choice Da’Ron Brown, undrafted college free agent Kenny Cook and tryout player Mark Roberts all made notable catches.

The Georgia native is the leader of that group and while he’s done nice things on the field, Conley has worked hardest in the meeting room and at the hotel every night, absorbing the extensive offensive playbook of Andy Reid.

“Initially when you look at it and the totality of it, it can be overwhelming,” Conley said of the Reid playbook. “It’s similar to some of the stuff we ran in college; we ran a pro-style offense.

“(But) you have to really slow things down and kind of marinate different concepts for a couple days.”

Conley has been approaching his work understanding the Chiefs offense in the same manner he went about studying for classes at Georgia, where he graduated in December with a degree in journalism and he was honored for academic excellence by both the Southeastern Conference and the N.C.A.A. That’s where he learned his study approach of breaking down the subject into small pieces, understand each piece, then putting them back together to learn how they fit and function.

The class that forced Conley to adopt that method was a political science class he took as a freshman at Georgia. “I didn’t have the easiest teacher and it was a learning experience for me,” Conley said. “I made my first B in that class. For a while I thought it was going to be a C. It was difficult; you had to re-learn some things and remake some study habits.

“It’s really what you have to do when you’re a professional athlete. You have to re-learn some of your habits. You have to create new ones and you have to see what works for you.”

Reid wants his receivers to learn the basics of all positions, whether it’s outside or working inside in the slot. That makes the start-up process of learning tougher for the rookies.

“My job is to learn the offense; that’s what I’ve been told,” said Conley. “I’ve been told to learn the offense conceptually. I don’t know where it is I’ll be playing this season; I’ll probably move around a lot. Coach (David) Culley told me ‘learn the concepts, learn the offense, be able to help and contribute.’

“You have to take the time and put the effort in to learn it.”