Mitch Morse works at center on first day of Chiefs rookie minicamp

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The biggest question entering the weekend surrounded where offensive lineman Mitch Morse would play during rookie minicamp.

Missouri offensive lineman Mitch Morse runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Missouri offensive lineman Mitch Morse runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Chiefs spent a second-round pick (49th overall) on the 6-6, 306-pound Morse during the 2015 NFL Draft, but the versatile offensive lineman’s specific role was unclear in the days after the annual selection process.

Apparently, Morse also couldn’t answer that question until he arrived in Kansas City last weekend.

“At that time I didn’t know where I was going to play,” Morse said following the Saturday morning walkthrough. “I had to wait until I got here to know that it was at center or guard or wherever they need me.”

Morse’s situation became less murky after the Chiefs finished the afternoon practice on the first day of practice.

“From what I saw, I thought Mitch did pretty well,” coach Andy Reid said. “Most of his work was at center, but he had a chance to play some guard and he seems to be handling things pretty well.”

Of course, how Morse continues to progress at center should go a long way in finalizing a specific responsibility.

Morse, who played center during the 2012 season at Missouri, finished his collegiate career at left tackle. But he said the center position became a focus during the offseason and while training for the NFL Scouting Combine.

“(I) talked to the agent and (he) said, ‘Listen, this is what guys see you at; heavy, short arms,’” Morse said. “I had no idea about it until I got to the Combine. They were hounding me, so they said, ‘Listen, you’re inside for sure.’ So I started working on my snaps right after that.”

The Chiefs enter the summer months without a named starting center, leaving it up for grabs with Rodney Hudson signing a free-agent contract in Oakland.

The Chiefs currently project to have Morse, third-year pro Eric Kush and Garrett Frye, who signed an undrafted free-agent contract, compete for the starting job.

STRAUSS HOPES TO STICK

The smile on former Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss said it all after the Saturday morning walkthrough.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s fun to be playing football.”

Strauss, who went undrafted following an accomplished collegiate career, is in Chiefs rookie minicamp as a tryout player.

His path to getting signed won’t be easy considering he is competing against three tryout quarterbacks: Bo Wallace from Mississippi, Cody Sokol from Louisiana Tech and Chris Bonner from Colorado State-Pueblo.

Strauss understands he faces a major challenge, but he hopes to make a showing in the coming days to generate a tough decision on the coaching staff.

“I can’t come out here and try to play outside of myself,” Strauss said. “Just got to stay within myself, do what I know I can do, which is throw the football and run an offense. If I come out here and do the things I’m supposed to do, it’s all I can ask for myself, and then let the cards fall. That’s my mentality going in.”

Strauss has one thing potentially working in his favor.

He originally served as a backup quarterback at the University of Virginia before transferring to Richmond. The Cavaliers offense when Strauss was there utilized a variation of the West Coast offense, so grasping what the Chiefs expect hasn’t been too difficult.

“Everybody has a bit of different terminology, but it’s been good,” Strauss said. “(Quarterbacks) coach (Matt) Nagy has been real great with us. He gave us the stuff a little bit early before we got here and I was able to dive in the book and learn the stuff. It’s gone well.”

BY THE NUMBERS

The Chiefs had 69 players – 41 on a tryout basis – officially listed on the minicamp roster, a year after hosting 65 players with 35 tryouts at the 2014 rookie minicamp.

While the numbers reflect a large amount of participants, coach Andy Reid wouldn’t want it any other way.

“You at least have two lines full of players,” Reid said, “so you can do some team stuff and not have to worry about the reps and guys getting so exhausted that they can’t practice.”

Two players listed on the roster were not on the practice field for the afternoon session.

Reid said offensive tackle Curtis Feight did not practice due to a hip injury. Feight spent time on the Chiefs practice squad in 2014 and signed a reserve/future contract at the end of the regular season.

Baylor offensive tackle Kelvin Palmer was not present for an undisclosed reason.

NOTES: The Chiefs officially announced the signing of former Villanova tight end Earnest Pettway to an undrafted free-agent contract … Pettway’s signing was previously reported by ChiefsDigest.com … Former Pittsburg State safety Keeston Terry, who was invited to the rookie minicamp, was not present or listed on the official roster.

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Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter:

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