KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One of the biggest questions following roster cuts to reach the initial 53-man roster surrounded the Chiefs waiving defensive end Mike Catapano.
Catapano joined the Chiefs in 2013 as a seventh-round pick out of Princeton and spent the 2014 season injured reserve. He returned focused and in shape, and appeared to be productive during the preseason, totaling four tackles (three solo).
But Catapano’s release appears to surround his fit in the Chiefs’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
“Mike’s a good football player and he’ll probably hook on with somebody else,” coach Andy Reid said. “I think if you were running a 4-3 and you put Mike as a rush defensive end, hand in the dirt and get yourself up field and go, I think that’s what he’s going to hook on with, a team like that.”
The 6-4 Catapano, whom the Chiefs listed at 270 pounds, has been on record stating he weighed 290, even going so far as to proclaim himself as the “leanest, meanest, 290 in the NFL right now” during training camp.
The added pounds, however, may have been a detriment as he learned to play inside.
“He always fought to keep his weight up and all of that so he could be inside there and he’d get bounced around there a little bit inside,” Reid said. “I think on the outside, boy, if we were playing a 4-3, he could just charge from there. Whoever gets him, I think they’re getting a good football player and hopefully he gets onto a team where they’re running a 4-3 front.”
The Chiefs have a Plan B in place given the departure of Mike Catapano.
And that option is defensive lineman Nick Williams, whom the Chiefs signed off the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad on Nov. 24, 2014.
Williams, who measures 6-4, 309 pounds, offers versatility to play inside as a three-technique pass-rush defensive tackle and on the outside as a five-technique defensive end.
A player’s ability to play more than one spot is coveted by the current Chiefs regime.
“I think he demonstrated he can play multiple positions,” general manager John Dorsey said of Williams. “He can play the three, he can play the five and he can help you along the way. At the end of the day, we decided to go with Nicholas Williams and I think it’s a good choice.”
Dorsey didn’t waste time when naming the surprise undrafted rookie of training camp.
“It would probably be (inside linebacker) Justin March,” the general manager said. “I love the kid, he’s tenacious.”
The 6-2, 222-pound March, who played collegiately at Akron, enjoyed a strong training camp and appeared well on his way to make a strong case for the 53-man roster.
Unfortunately, March suffered a torn meniscus in his knee during the preseason opener and landed on season-ending injured reserve.
So would March have made the roster without the knee injury?
“Well, you never say never because we really never have gotten to the final two preseason games,” Dorsey said. “He demonstrated everything that you wanted to see – his ability to play special teams, he picked up the defense very quickly, he’s innately tough, he’s smart. That’s the guy who I was cheering for.”