KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There was a lesson learned Wednesday in the Chiefs locker room when it comes to recently signed defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson.
Ask about his health or the hip injury that landed him on injured reserve in November 2013, and the 6-5, 328-pound Vickerson’s emphatic response leaves no doubt.
“I’m going to show the world that I’m healthy,” he said. “I’m glad to be here. I’m glad I got the opportunity. That’s been a question that’s been circled in my area is, ‘Are you healthy?’ ‘Are you healthy?’ I’m healthy, yes.”
The Chiefs certainly hope so after signing Vickerson to compensate the loss of defensive end Mike DeVito, whose ruptured Achilles tendon landed him on season-ending injured reserve.
“We welcome him in,” coach Andy Reid said of Vickerson. “He’s coming off an injury that he had and went through training camp and did his thing there. And now he has an opportunity as a seasoned veteran to come in here and help this football team.”
The 31-year-old Vickerson, who spent training camp with the Denver Broncos, offers more than a big body. He has nine years of experience with 43 starts in 71 career games, and is a versatile defensive lineman with 153 career tackles (111 solo) and 6 ½ sacks.
And while the Chiefs currently list him second on the depth chart at left defensive end, Vickerson said his exact role has yet to be determined.
But even then, Vickerson brings an air of toughness.
“Being physical,” he said, “just being myself, man. Being dominant against the run, playing the run and just coming in with an attitude, giving this team an attitude. I definitely play with a chip on my shoulder and that’s how I’m going to approach my season.”
The timing of Vickerson’s arrival could be viewed as perfect when considering he spent the past four seasons with the Broncos.
And that means he’ll have an opportunity to go after the quarterback he practiced against before the Broncos released him on Aug. 30.
“Kevin was an excellent player for us,” Peyton Manning said during Wednesday’s media conference call, “made a lot of plays for us. He’s a veteran and he’s seen it all.”
The Chiefs are potentially counting on Manning’s last statement, especially when he could offer insight on how to defend the All-Pro signal caller.
Vickerson didn’t waste time dispensing advice.
“He gets the ball out fast,” Vickerson said. “He’s the King of the no-huddle, snap counts and everything like that. It’s important not to panic when he goes to hurry up when you’re feeling like it’s a go, like you need to hurry up. The main thing is keeping composure and just playing ball. At the end of the day, you keep your composure and play ball, everything will work out.”
Whether Vickerson carves a role for playing time Sunday remains to be seen considering he just arrived in Kansas City.
But he’s cramming the play book to be prepared just in case the Chiefs coaching staff calls his number.
“They want me to get the game plan down,” Vickerson said. “I’ve been studying, getting it all in, so I’ll be all right.”